Wednesday, 30 July 2014

RAK #2: A4 MiracleBind book

Just before I went away (literally, the DAY before I went away) I received a MiracleBind notebook from Philofaxy Steve (via Filofax). I was sent a black A4 version, with 120 pages of 5 mm quadrille paper inside.

The concept of the binder is that, although the book seems spiral bound, the pages are removable and replaceable. The inner edge of the sheets have a waxy feel, like they are reinforced in some way and there is a slit from the hole to the edge of the page, allowing the page to be removed and replaced in a different part of the book if required.

Walk through:

The cover is a very stiff board, covered with black vinyl. There is an embossed oval on the front, to indicate where a label could be placed. The cover of the one I was sent was quite dinged, as if it had been scraped against another binder and the rings had dug into the card cover, but they aren’t very noticeable and anyway, it was a RAK!

Front (still wrapped in plastic)
Back (still wrapped in plastic)
Front (unwrapped)
Close-up of label

There are 11 rings, split into 4 at the top and 7 at the bottom, with a gap between them. I’m not sure what the gap is for? So that a label can be put on the spine?

Rings (with gap that makes it look like one is missing)
The first page has an explanation of the system, in several languages.

First page

After this, there is an index page (which is used in conjunction with the index flags – see later), the reverse side of which has an info space and a message from MiracleBind saying thank you for buying the product.

Index page
Info and 'thank you'

Next up were the 120 pages of 5 mm quadrille paper, which had a small margin around the edges. The inner edge has the reinforcing I mentioned, then there are fine perforations so that the page can be torn out cleanly, if required.

After this is a page of peel-off index flags/stickers for the sides, front and spine of the binder.

Right at the very back there is a plastic pocket – the pocket slot is halfway down the page, with two business card slots right at the bottom. It too is repositionable.

Fountain pen tests:
Naturally, I have tried out all my inked pens on it to see how the paper stands up.
It wasn’t too horrendous, but the paper was quite ‘grabby’ and almost sticky with a couple of the pens. There was a little bit of bleeding (the line being laid down thicker than the nib intended) but not much feathering or spidering.

Fountain pen tests (front)

The reverse of the page was better than I expected. There was some bleed-through to the reverse but it was almost (almost!) usable on the other side. The Sharpie was naturally a disaster zone.

Fountain pen tests (reverse)

It’s an interesting product. Thank you to Steve for having it sent to me!!

Sunday, 27 July 2014

SO many things to review!

I’m back!! And I have SO many things to review!
  • Two RAKs
  • Two new pens
  • A stationery prize I won (yay!)

Today though, I will do RAK #1 where my good friend sent me some paper samples from an order he put in at Jet Pens.

He sent me:
  • An old Filofax ‘letter planner’ insert
  • Enough monthly inserts by Davinci for a year’s worth of planning
  • A check list sample
  • Some Raymay Davinci lined refill for personal size planners (6.5mm line spacing) and some plain paper

1. The old Filofax ‘letter planner’ insert
Interestingly, the top edge and inside edge look as if they have been torn from a perforated sheet – I don’t know if it was a larger sheet that was then separated, or why these edges look perforated. Anyway, I do have a ‘letters filofax’ (A5) and I do keep notes about things I have written to people (to try and stop repeating myself too much!) but I have never used a specific insert for this – I just jot notes on notepaper. I get the feeling that the letter planner insert was more for a business letter than for a personal one (I only really write personal ones!).

Front page
Reverse side

The top section has space for date, to, address, copies to, enclosures and file. Then there are two sections for ‘main points’ on the first side and three of these sections on the reverse side.
The copyright date for the insert is 2010 (somewhat surprisingly – I would have thought these would have been discontinued earlier than that...).

2. The monthly inserts by Davinci
These are printed on thin, cream paper (though my friend says that it isn’t on the Raymay Davinci paper, but from the fill from a binder he bought). It feels about the same thickness as Filofax diary paper (70 gsm?).

Undated monthly pages

The picture shows a double spread. The months are undated, with a quick 1-31 on the left hand side, then the days of the week across the top and six boxes deep on the left page and five boxes deep on the right, with the bottom space labelled ‘memo’.

3. Check list
Again, on thin, cream paper with grey and green inks. I don’t know what the Japanese symbols mean, but there are two check boxes on each box – one open and the other lightly shaded green. Personally, the boxes are too deep for me, but as there are two check boxes per large space, they could be divided into two. The depth of the box is 17mm.

Check list

4. Lined refill
Nice, simple design with a top margin of 9.5 mm, a bottom margin of 4.5 mm (with a bold line border) and lines at 6.5 mm spacing in a feint grey. The lines stop 9 mm from the inner edge and 5.5 mm from the outer edge.
The lined paper is the only one that I did a fountain pen test on. Oh, if only Filofax could make paper like this!! The paper is silky smooth to write on, with no feathering or spidering at all. And despite the paper being incredibly thin, there is almost no bleed-through to the reverse – a little, but certainly not so much (except with a Sharpie) that the reverse isn’t usable. The paper was a complete delight!

Fountain pen test - front
Fountain pen test - reverse

5. Plain paper refill
Um, not much to describe – same thinness that the lined paper has, and the same light cream colour. I haven’t fountain pen tested it, but I would be surprised if it was different from the lined paper.

Anyway, a HUGE thank you to my friend for sending me the samples and also for the offer of a combined order (to split the postage costs) – I may well be putting in an order for a lot of these beautiful papers!

Friday, 11 July 2014

There will now be a short intermission...

... as I am going away on holiday!

I promise faithfully to review my new pens, some paper sent to me in a RAK from a good friend and a MiracleBind A4 binder sent in another RAK from another good friend when I come back!

See you soon!

Sunday, 6 July 2014

de Villiers set-up (aka: have I found planner Nirvana?)

"New" de Villiers - front
"New" de Villiers - interior

I have moved in! I thought I would have to tweak and fiddle with my set-up in a major way in order to fit into the small rings, but actually, the thing is like a Tardis!

I thought that I wouldn’t be able to keep all of the rest of 2014’s week on two pages diary and so set about creating monthly sheets which had a list of ‘things to do this month’ as the first side, a double-spread of month to view, then the last side for a review (four sides in total; two pages per month).

I also thought I might not have space to have my contacts on the rings and rummaged around to find a satellite address-book that could slot into a pocket in the binder. I found three – the pocket-filofax size one that came with the pocket flex, a filofax one I had been given that was Swedish (?) and which also slightly bizarrely seems to run in reverse order and have some extra letters, and a Paperblanks one that came with a diary and which is a bit of a tight fit.

Satellite address book options

In the end, I needed neither of these alterations! I had a good long look at what I carry around and wondered – do I really need to cart all this around with me?? The answer was no, and so I could fit all that I wanted onto the rings!

Things that have stayed and where they have gone:
  • My cards – all in the ten slots in the front cover
  • Stamps (tucked into the vertical pocket behind the cards)
  • Plastic cover sheet to protect the pages
  • To do sheets (see this post about the latest tweaks)
  • Week to view diary (June to December, though still space for the whole year if needed I think)
  • Today marker (in the current week for once!)
  • Information tab
    • Personal information sheets
    • Books to look for
    • List of OS maps we have
    • A chart of my weight
  • Addresses tab
    • Lists of contacts
  • Notes tab
    • 5 sheets of paper
  • Zipped pencil case with coins in it
  • Paper money in the outer of the two vertical pockets in the back cover
To Do now up front and in my face
...including reminders to turn the page! I can see the next actions I should be doing!
Notes section tucked behind notes tab behind To Do
zipped pencil case from Tesco for coins
Paper money in vertical pocket

Things that have not been moved across (all have been transferred to the planning filofax):
  • General to-do sheet of big house-stuff things
  • Notes from Rotary Committees (it is the end of the Rotary year and the information has gone into the report!)
  • Year planner
  • Important dates sheet
  • Timetable pages (none of these last three things of these were filled in!)
  • Information pages – web things to look for; general other notes no longer needed; list of shopping sites; list of apps to look at; names/contacts for getting logs; random other bits of information like meter readings; maps; packing lists
  • Card holder

So what has changed in the de Villiers in comparison with the Baroque?
  • All of the cards are in the inside left cover rather than there being six there and the rest in a card-holder on the rings at the back
  • Up front (and in my face!) is my to-do list, with my next action sheet behind (see my last post for why this is here)
  • The notes section is now behind the to-do
  • The monthly sheets have gone (with the hope that their contents will get added to the to do lists a tad more regularly than the last few months)
  • I have removed both the planner tab and the diary tab, since the Today marker is all that is needed
  • Week on two pages is as it was (with the Today marker in the right place)
  • There is a slimmed down information section behind the tab
  • Addresses are as they were, behind the tab
  • The zipped pencil case for coins has moved to the back so that when I open the planner, the to-do list is the first thing there

I weighed the de Villiers, loaded up and it came in at 377g. If you recall, the Holborn and the Portland were weighing in at 530g. The de Villiers is MUCH less brick-like!

In summary, I have all my cards in, I have my paper and coins in (so wallet functions are covered); I have to-do, notes, diary, information and addresses in there (so planner functions are covered); it weighs ~30% less than the previous format. Oh, and it is blood-red (I realise this possibly only appeals to me...).

So, have I reached planner Nirvana?


The tabs stick out a bit beyond the cover, but nothing too drastic and there is no pen loop. However, I have ordered a Leuchtturm1917 pen loop in black which I will stick to the plastic cover sheet at the front.

Could this finally be planner heaven? I’ll keep you posted.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Compare and contrast the black de Villiers and the red one

If you've been following the last few posts, you will know that I won a black de Villiers slimline binder on eBay and as soon as it arrived in the post, I sent it to Steve (from Philofaxy) as a swap for the red one that Anita had posted about on Philofaxy - see here - and given to Steve.

Still with me?

Anyway, followers of my blog (bless you! Have you nothing better to do?) will also know my love of red, shiny things (too many posts to list about red, shiny binders!!). I've been using the red de Villiers for about a week or more now and I still LOVE it.

Eagle-eyed readers of posts on the two de Villiers binders may have seen some differences, but for those of you who didn't, let me show you a couple.

The leather of the black version was quite grained and not smooth and shiny. I don't have any binders like it, but from pictures on the web, it might be a bit like the Richmond filofax leather (but don't quote me on that!). The red binder however, is shiny and smooth - almost patent leather in texture but not so plasticky! IT. IS. GORGEOUS. Just sayin'...

front of the black version
front of the red version
back of the black version
back of the red version

The interiors are mirror-images of each other. The black version has the card slots at the back, whereas the red version has them at the front:

Interior of the black version (also showing the grain of the leather nicely)
Interior of the red version

Well, there they are. What do people think?

Friday, 4 July 2014

de Villiers update

As I said in this post, I won a black de Villiers slimline binder on eBay. It arrived and it was lovely – in immaculate condition and absolutely divine.
Here are some pictures:


I haven’t moved in, because I no longer have it.

Before you all think I have gone even madder than normal, I still have a slimline de Villiers.

Ha! That’s confused you all!

I have Steve from Philofaxy’s (that was Anita’s) red, slimline de Villiers. Still with me?

When the black one arrived, despite its absolute gloriousness, I knew it was not to be because it was black and I need a colour pop and anyway, I had seen Steve’s/Anita’s red one so I knew red ones existed. I contacted Steve and he agreed to swap my black one for his red one.

So, last weekend, the de Villiers crossed the Channel (the red one must have been getting a bit fed up of this parcel to post existence...).

I knew the red one was ‘pre-loved’ (aka battered and well used) and indeed, it was in need of a bit of tender loving care, so I gave it a clean and some red leather polish and some love and now it is drop dead gorgeous (in a well-used kind of way).
[I did a guest post on Philofaxy on renovating it, which you can see here.]

Ta da!!

Interior - interestingly, the mirror-image of the black one

So now I just have to tweak my set-up a bit so I can move in.

Thursday, 3 July 2014