Daycraft Animal Pals Notebook – “Aberdeen” Movie Edition Whale and Greenie

12 05 2014

I think Daycraft has nearly perfected the art of making almost unbearably adorable notebooks. Their latest offering is part of a tie-in with the movie Aberdeen. Why don’t we get sweet movie tie-ins in America? T-shirts and Happy Meal toys don’t count.

I think the movie is out now? Someone tell me if it's any good

I think the movie is out now? Someone tell me if it’s any good

I love Daycraft’s polyurethane—it’s so smooth and high quality, so well constructed. The embossing used to create the baleen whale plates, the cutaway for the blowhole, the stitching and cutaways for the chameleon—all brilliant details. These are wonderful stylizations.

If I had enough Animal Pal notebooks I could have made a looping chain of pockets in pockets in pockets!! Alas, opportunity missed

If I had enough Animal Pal notebooks I could have made a looping chain of pockets in pockets in pockets!! Alas, opportunity missed

A bookmark is pretty standard, but for some reason I was surprised to find a pocket as well. I guess I’m used to pockets only being present when there are elastic closures; it was a pleasant surprise (though it does create a slight bump in the back cover; life is full of trade-offs). Bonus: movie postcards!

I'm pretty sure #1 and #3 are the same. Oops.

I’m pretty sure #1 and #3 are the same. Oops.

Tell y’all what. The first three people to translate for me what these postcards say, I’ll figure out how to mail you that postcard. One postcard per person. Leave a comment indicating which # postcard above you are translating. One and three are, looks like to me anyway, the same. So, eh, once 1/3 and 2 are translated, the next person to leave a comment saying I want the last one can have the one that’s left.

Animal shapes!

Animal shapes! A tail, perhaps?

The paper is cream-colored with pale orange animal patterns on it (ears, tails, paws). The performance is standard Daycraft—does well with ballpoints, gels, felt-tip pens, pencils, but not so hot with liquid inks like fountain pens and rollerballs (unless you’re using the magical Rorher & Klingner Scabiosa ink, which I really need to review, on account of the magic).

Are my performance standards for liquid ink on papers too high? It's possible.

Are my performance standards for liquid ink on papers too high? It’s possible.

See? Fountain pens are doing okay on the animal print parts, except there’s kind of a weird pattern happening in the ink. Outside of the animal print, there’s a little feathering. It’s not the worst, but I’m picky. I’ll no doubt be happier using gel pens and other less particular instruments of writing.

Quick, someone go see Aberdeen and tell me if there are any catchphrases associated with Greenie. And then I can use that as the caption instead. Or, be lazy and just not.

Quick, someone go see Aberdeen and tell me if there are any catchphrases associated with Greenie. And then I can use that as the caption instead. Or, be lazy and just not.

If I could go back in time with these notebooks, I’m pretty sure I would have been voted coolest child in school. I don’t know how children vote for their superior peer leaders these days, but if it’s still based on the adorability of stationery products, then these notebooks are instant winners.

Animal Pals Notebooks – Greenie and Whale Special Edition at Daycraft





Daycraft Signature Chromatic Diary 2013

9 02 2014

I know, I know. It’s 2014 now. This is a 2013 diary. Luckily, Daycraft sells a 2014 edition of this diary. I was just super slow to review this one. Sorry. And thanks to Daycraft for providing this sample.

I'm not sure this blue is exactly accurate...it's more of a pantone blue perhaps, or a web color medium blue.

I’m not sure this blue is exactly accurate…it’s more of a pantone blue perhaps, or a web color medium blue. This picture seems a bit light. Maybe it’s my monitor. MAYBE IT’S YOUR MONITOR

I am not normally one to use the term “fun colors,” but that’s the only way to describe the color options for the Chromatic. You’ve got an irresistably soft-to-the-touch brightly colored polyurethane cover typical of most Daycraft notebooks, with adjacent-color accent pages inside the cover (purple for the blue, blue for the green, green for the yellow, yellow for the orange, orange for the red) and matching ribbon bookmark. And the edges on the pages! Not just a rainbow, but a thing of beauty. The cover is simple, but that bright striped rainbow is like an intricate, colorful tattoo peeking out from under the suited sleeve of a businessperson—something wild and exciting, just below the surface.

Note to self: when combining multiple images on a laptop, save often. Very often. The laptop does not have the same processing power as the desktop.

Note to self: when combining multiple images on a laptop, save often. Very often. The laptop does not have the same processing power as the desktop. You WILL regret having to make this image twice

Being slimmer than, say, the Signature Diary, comes at a cost. Here, part of that means less extras, though they’ve kept the international guides and gift ideas, and still have such useful sections as notes and income/expenses pages.

Look, it's my work schedule! From a year ago.

Look, it’s my work schedule! From a year ago.

You’ve got tiny calendars, next-year-planning calendars, and then the goods: week to view, with monthly overviews interspersed throughout at the appropriate intervals. The two page monthly overview is my favorite—easy for me to plan out my working schedule, note any overtime, and write out little notes for the month in the space to the side. Plus, tiny overview calendars for next month on that same spread!

This would probably be very great if I wrote vertically

This would probably be very great for someone else. Or someone who likes writing with 0.18mm gel pens.

This is the other major cost of a slim calendar (and to some extent, week to view in general): hardly any room to write. It’s doable, but microtip pens and writing small are a must. The vertically oriented days are visually appealing, but aren’t very practical, allowing only about 3 words per line. For this reason I ended up favoring the use of the Daycraft Executive Diary for my plans in 2013. But maybe this unusual format is just what you’ve been looking for. Maybe you like to write vertically. I don’t know. I don’t know you.

I would advise testing out your pens in this diary if you get it to see what works best for you

I would advise testing out your pens in this diary if you get it to see what works best for you

The paper does pretty well with most pens, except Pilot Varsity (a notorious pen), brush pens, and very ink-heavy pens like 1.0mm gel pens or broad nib fountain pens. Too much ink and you start to get bleedthrough. But I had no problems using an extra fine nib Lamy with Lamy blue ink. Depends on the pen, though as a general rule with such limited writing space I might would stick to microtip pens.

Taste the rainbow! No, wait, no don't eat---DON'T EAT THE DIARY PLANNER THING

Taste the rainbow! No, wait, no don’t eat—DON’T EAT THE DIARY PLANNER THING

There aren’t many of the smaller A6 Chromatics in stock, if any, at the time I’m writing this. But I wonder, the A5 might be worth a go. Bigger surely means more room to write, which would overcome my main complaint with the Chromatic. Keep your eyes on Daycraft, maybe the color you want will soon be back in stock.

Daycraft Signature Chromatic Diary 2014 available in 5 colors, A5 and A6 sizes, English and Chinese editions at Daycraft





Daycraft 2013 Executive Diary – Silver, Pocket, English Edition

27 12 2013

Based on the extras contained in this planner, it’s safe to say I am not fabulous enough or high-paid jetsetting business executive enough for this thing. My planner is cooler than I am. It’s ok. I accept this truth, much as I accepted this free sample from Daycraft many months ago. Of the planners I received, this one has emerged as my favorite. Many thanks to Daycraft for this sample.

Forgive me if the pictures are all out of whack. I've gotten a Chromebook and I'm trying to see if I can edit the pictures on it. If I can get this working, it portends well for more frequent updates!

Forgive me if the pictures are all out of whack. I’ve gotten a Chromebook and I’m trying to see if I can edit the pictures on it. If I can get this working, it portends well for more frequent updates!

The cover is slightly different from the Daycraft Signature standard—rather than soft, this cover is smooth, textured like some kind of metallic silver skin. That’s it, it’s obviously robot skin. Robot leather? Allegedly it’s fine Italian polyurethane, but it feels different. The cover is also, unlike the Signature Diary, a hardcover, with a neon pink elastic closure. The elastic band has held up well so far over these many months. The doorknob it loops over I go back and forth on—I like that it makes my planner look like a portal to some pocket-sized dimension; I’m annoyed at times that the little knob keeps the cover from sitting flat on the table.

You can even keep checks in the back, if you're the kind of person who still has checks and wants a stylish place to keep them.

You can even keep checks in the back, if you’re the kind of person who still has checks and wants a stylish place to keep them.

Comes with a matching silver ribbon bookmark, a spacious back pocket big enough to perfectly fit spare checks and other odds & ends, and four pages divided into three sections each of little perforated blank notes. You can give someone a note without having to rip any paper out, and you get 10 lined pages titled “NOTES” for your own use.

It takes special talent to edit all of these pictures such that the cream colored pages are a different cream color in every picture. Maybe one of them is sort of close enough to right.

It takes special talent to edit all of these pictures such that the cream colored pages are a different cream color in every picture. Maybe one of them is sort of close enough to right.

For such a convenient size, this planner is chock-full of non-calendar bonus features. They’ve included all the extras I loved in the Signature Diary (such as the traveler’s cheat sheet of international guides with things like emergency phone numbers and what side of the road is driven on for 28 major countries), plus even more with an eye toward the world-travelling businessperson. You’ve got lists of international holidays, world time zones, international direct dialing codes, websites of governments, information on various Asian golf courses, measurement and size conversion tables, nutritional information, gift ideas, signs of the Zodiac, places to write out special dates for each month, venue lists (to keep track of the companies, shops, clinics, dentists, beauty salons, beauticians, hair salons, and hair stylists in your life), and contacts.  And then there’s my favorite, the Vintage Chart: a two-page crash course in wine snobbery. For example, I would avoid the ’93 Northern Rhone, but the 2003 was an exceptional vintage. See? You too can sound almost passably knowledgeable.

My busy busy life...well, it looks more busy in the year planner overview....and hopefully this time around this picture doesn't look so gosh-darned yellow...

My busy busy life…well, it looks more busy in the year planner overview….and hopefully this time around this picture doesn’t look so gosh-darned yellow…

The main body of the Executive Diary consists of week-to-view calendars. Each day has room for some general task planning, and each month has an overview page with a quote, a small month calendar, and some lines to plot out whatever major things you have in  that month. There’s also year planner pages toward the front, and forward planner pages for 2014 toward the back. And some uselessly tiny calendars in the very front.

I'm not sure if I made this image color better, or just more differently wrong. Oh well.

I’m not sure if I made this image color better, or just more differently wrong. Oh well.

The paper isn’t winning any awards. The main problem seems to be feathering wherever most liquid inks are involved, with bleedthrough on the heavier inks and showthrough on everything that’s darker than orange. Normally, I argue that a notebook is nothing without its paper, but when it comes to planners there’s a higher calling of form and function involved. The primary purpose of a planner isn’t the writing, it’s the planning. If the format is good, this alone will trump mediocre paper. This is why I will use a tiny week-to-view Moleskine (yes, Moleskine! Of all crappy paper things!) to keep track of my hours worked. I have literally hundreds of pens. It doesn’t kill me to set my fountain pens and liquid inks aside, and pick up one of my numerous gel pens, pencils, or ballpoints to use in this notebook (my favorite to use: retractable Pilot FriXion ball pens).

Stylish, sleek, and it's held up beautifully to a solid year of abuse and being casually thrown in all kinds of bags

Stylish, sleek, and it’s held up beautifully to a solid year of abuse and being casually thrown in all kinds of bags

It’s slim, it’s tall, it’s smooth. Big enough to be useful, small enough to be convenient, durable enough to survive all year still looking sharp. I’m not even close to being an executive, but I can still appreciate the 2013 Executive Diary by Daycraft.

Daycraft Executive Diary – Pocket Size English Edition available in 7 Colors for 2014 at Daycraft





Mini Review: Daycraft Cantoon Notebook

15 09 2013

I just got back from a fantastic vacation to the Great Lakes—saw three out of the five! If it were a majority vote, it’d be like I saw all of them. All this fine vacationing has put me in an agreeable mind to tackle some of the reviews I’ve put off, including this Cantoon Notebook by Daycraft. Many thanks to Daycraft for providing this sample.

Of course I forget to throw in something for scale. It's about 7" tall and just over 4" wide.

Of course I forget to throw in something for scale. It’s about 7″ tall and just over 4″ wide.

It’s cute, and I have no idea what to do with it. Well, write in it obviously, but which writing tasks? The cover is Satogami paper, which seems to be a fancy word for thin cardboard, with its shiny red designs embossed on the cover.

Allegedly a mnemonic for helping to learn certain English words. Someone versed in English and Cantonese (I think is what the characters are?) would be better able to advise exactly how helpful or clever this mnemonic is.

Allegedly a mnemonic for helping to learn certain English words. Someone versed in English and Cantonese (I think is what the characters are?) would be better able to advise exactly how helpful or clever this mnemonic is.

The zigzag stitching is for design only—the notebook is bound inside along the spine, and opens up to lay flat quite nicely. The book contains 50 sheets (100 sides) of tan/brown-colored gridded (possibly also Satogami) paper (solid horizontal lines, dotted verticals).

A pretty solid performance

A pretty solid performance

The paper is thick, but the surface has some texture to it. In spite of the textured surface, the paper performs surprisingly well in most ink categories. Feathering wasn’t even a problem on any of them—mostly it was just some fuzzing with select pens, like cheap Pilot fountain pens, and liquid ink rollerballs like the Uni-ball Vision and the Stabilo ‘s move. Everything else did well, no bleedthrough (except on a thick-tipped liquid ink Sharpie marker), and even though the paper is textured, lines remain pretty crisp (though admittedly charactered) and the paper isn’t too difficult or slow to write on (though you are never at risk of accumulating so much smoothness that your pen might skate off the page. This isn’t smooth paper).

Random decorative stitching. Why not.

Random decorative stitching. Why not.

It’s a cute notebook that still somehow manages a fairly gender-neutral aesthetic. The paper is widely usable, and the grids are practical. I’m still not entirely sure what I want to use it for, but it’s another neat little notebook from Daycraft.

Cantoon Notebook – Notes at Daycraft





Daycraft Signature Inspiro Notebook

5 09 2013

Every time I get an email from Daycraft, I thank a Nigerian prince for making their spam emails so entertaining that I check my spam folder on a semi-regular basis, and thus saw the original email from Daycraft mistakenly sitting among heartfelt and randomly capitalized entreaties from various obscure political players in far-flung nations. Were it not for those princes and ambassadors, caught in the dire circumstances of assassinations and intrigue with their millions of US Dollars in jeopardy, I might never have seen that email and made contact with Daycraft, and this review never would have been. And of course, I’d like to thank Daycraft for sending me this free sample of their new Signature Inspiro notebook to try.

What your very own Signature Inspiro might look like by the dawn's early light after a 15 hour night shift.

What your very own Signature Inspiro might look like by the dawn’s early light after a 15 hour night shift.

There are three variations of the Signature Inspiro: Today Is My Day, Stop Wishing Start Doing, and the one I chose, Great Ideas Have to Start Somewhere. All three are A5-sized, with 176 pages of 6.5mm lined cream-color paper, and addictively soft fine Italian polyurethane covers. Each cover is a different color: ash grey for Today is My Day, caramel for Stop Wishing Start Doing, and applesauce for Great Ideas Have to Start Somewhere. I liked the look and slogan of this Inspiro best out of the three. Great Ideas Have to Start Somewhere, so why not right here in this very notebook?

Composite notebook ACTION!

Why break up the text every other line when I can put all these pictures TOGETHER?

The notebook is soft-covered, no closing band or pockets (a lack of pockets doesn’t particularly perturb me—I’ve stopped making pockets on my personal notebooks out of laziness), though it does have a grey silk ribbon bookmark. I like the look of it, the feel of it, the weight of it, the flex of it.

I promise you, the paper is cream colored. Do not be fooled by my inability to take pictures in proper lighting.

I promise you, the paper is cream colored. Do not be fooled by my inability to take pictures in proper lighting.

Unfortunately, this paper is not friendly toward the liquid inks of fountain pens and rollerballs; they feather and fuzz enough to make a dozen baby chickens by the time you’re done with the page. I was very disappointed by this, since the Handy Pick blank sketchbook paper handled a variety of liquid inks so well, and this paper is thick enough that bleedthrough wasn’t a problem except on the broadest-nibbed Vanishing Point. Stick to ballpoints, gel pens, pencils, or used Sailor Ink Bars that you’ve refilled with blue Lamy ink (which, for whatever reason, is combining with this paper for the most WONDERFUL-feeling tactile writing with almost no feathering whatsoever), or risk running afoul of the strong feathering tendencies of this paper. Outside of the liquid inks, this paper is no problem.

I think my camera and computer are in a conspiracy to make everything pink I take pictures of look Pepto Bismal pink. No. It is not quite that bright of a pink.

I think my camera and computer are in a conspiracy to make everything pink I take pictures of look Pepto Bismal pink. No. It is not quite that bright of a pink.

I’m thinking this might be a good notebook to try out that Bullet Journaling system in, or at the very least perhaps use for handwriting out my reviews. Though I’m a bit let down by the paper, I do still like the notebook. It’ll give me an excuse to use my ballpoints and gel pens more.

Daycraft Signature Inspiro Notebook at Daycraft





Handy Pick Organizer Pocket Notebook

24 08 2013

I’ve been carrying the Handy Pick around for a nice little while—Daycraft offered to send me a sample to try, and though of all the cool colors it comes in pink is the last color I would’ve picked for myself, I’m not going to say no to such a high quality free sample. I’ve been learning to overcome the pinkness and embrace the Handy Pick.

A little bit larger than a check book, and this pink keeps looking a bit off. Should be more the slightly pale pink color of generic oral contraceptives than shocking pink of pepto bismal.

A little bit larger than a check book, and this pink keeps looking a bit off in my pictures. Should be more the slightly pale pink color of generic oral contraceptives than the shocking pink of pepto bismal.

The cover is made of that same delectably soft Italian polyurethane that the Signature Diary is made of. It’s got a card slot, back pocket, and what appears to be a two-notebook capacity, though it’s also possible that I don’t know what I’m doing.

Biggest surprise: this faboo paper

Biggest surprise: this faboo paper

The blank notebook/sketchbook insert comes with 30 perforated pages (60 total sides front and back) of 64 gsm white paper that does surprisingly well with a range of pens and inks, particularly for such thin paper. I mean just look at that Lamy Joy! Look at the broad-nibbed Vanishing Point!

Serious fountain pens,  no problem. Except for the TWSBI Mini (with Pendleton-modded flex nib) that decided it would have nothing to do with this paper.

Serious fountain pens, no problem. Except for the TWSBI Mini (with Pendleton-modded flex nib) that decided it would have nothing to do with this paper.

There were a couple fountain pens that didn’t do so hot (fuzzing, feathering, bleeding through), but they were the exception, not the rule. It’s not 100% perfect paper, but it does a very good job and feels smooth.

Ruler, I do not even know what to do with you. Where are you supposed to go.

Ruler, I do not even know what to do with you. Where are you supposed to go.

I don’t quite know what to make of the ruler, given that I have need of one almost approximately never. I don’t even quite know how it’s supposed to go on. Does it go inside the cover? Outside, holding the whole notebook closed? I don’t know! It is nice that it’s clear, with the grid, though my American exceptionalism keenly notes the absence of inches. How will I measure my American things?

Now I just need some books for these little marks.

Now I just need some books for these little marks.

These bookmarks are neato. Fun to play with. Not conducive to my normal reading habit, which usually takes place at work, and usually involves needing a bookmark immediately so I can throw the book down and focus on emergency funtimes. These bookmarks slide on easily, but you do have to put some focus into it (moreso than I would for something just shoved into the book). The slim profile is nice, as is the way it opens ever so slightly to slide onto the page when you push down on the raised button. Doubles as a fancy paperclip. Pretty spiffy.

Given how the ruler is in the way of the back pocket, I feel like I'm probably doing something wrong.

Given how the ruler is in the way of the back pocket, I feel like I’m probably doing something wrong.

Got this single card slot, which nicely fits a twice-folded handwritten review. The front pocket easily conceals my phone (will slide out if not secured by gravity) and the back two pockets seem like good places to tuck bits of paper, spare checks, tickets (for whoever out there who actually has physical, printed tickets).

Stealthily conceals slim smartphones

Stealthily conceals slim smartphones

For my personal use, I think I’d swap the ruler for perhaps the cards holder (because when do I only ever need one card?) or the fastener pocket, maybe add a simple calendar to accompany these fantastic blank pages. A notebook is only as good as its paper, and this little organizational notebook is off to a great start.

The Handy Pick Organizer Pocket Notebook at Daycraft (note: prices are in Hong Kong dollars, not US dollars. That’s why it says HK$. Though they do have the option now to display prices in US dollars! )





Daycraft 2013 Animaland Diary – Baboon – Overview and GIVEAWAY!

7 01 2013
Reminds me a bit of the Regular Show

Reminds me a bit of the Regular Show

It’s 2013, and MAYBE YOU DON’T HAVE A PLANNER? Or maybe, in the stupor of a New Year’s hangover, you stumbled into some cut-rate box giant and picked out some unspeakably atrocious calendar to drag through the next year. Or maybe you have an incurable addiction to calendars and day planners. Whatever your deal, perhaps I have a giveaway for you.

Unless you hate pink. In which case, WOW, you are looking at the wrong giveaway.

Unless you hate pink. In which case, WOW, you are looking at the wrong giveaway.

You remember Daycraft? And their super cool planners? Well, some time last year they sent me a box of 3 spankin’ new 2013 selections. Even I cannot use that many calendar-planners, so I figured I’d share some of the love.

I'm even going to let you have the stickers

I’m even going to let you have the stickers

A quick run-down on the specs of this diary/planner/notebook/bound configuration of paper:

  • Pink / Baboon
  • Laminated pearl paper cover
  • width 106mm x height 150mm
  • 216 pages of 60 gsm paper
  • Week-to-view
  • International holidays
  • Nutrition labeling information
  • Gift ideas
  • Year planner
  • 71-week planner (WHOOPS I did not pay attention to the fact that this planner started in August 2012…I’m a little late on this giveaway, sorry. The thing was just so thin I figured there couldn’t be that many extra weeks in it. Goes to January 5th of 2014)

The paper is the same thin sort as I reviewed in my 2012 Signature Diary, so I imagine it’ll take various inks as well as that did.

I hope you like cute illustrations

I hope you like cute illustrations

Each month in 2013 starts with a little illustration and a month overview with room for notes.

No page without cuteness

No page without cuteness; see the little sheep at the bottom?

And here’s the layout for each week. There’s also a set of 4 perforated sheets in the back, each sheet divided into 3 sections, so if you need to tear off a piece of paper to give to someone, it will be an adorable piece of paper.

Now, if you’re interested in this little planner to make your year better, read on.

******************************

THE GIVEAWAY RULES!

******************************

  1. To enter, just leave one comment on this post any time between now and Sunday, January 20th 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time. Since I’m feeling crazy and like I don’t give enough of my money to the postal service, let’s have this contest open WORLD WIDE. The only people who can’t enter are people on space stations, the moon, and those otherwise residing extraterrestrially.
  2. One winner will be picked at random from the comments section of this post. Make any kind of comment—but only one comment! Comments in excess of one shall be deleted. The comments will be numbered in the order they are received, i.e. the first comment is #1, the second #2, and so on. Because my blog doesn’t seem to number the comments on its own yet, and I STILL don’t will probably never have time/the willpower to fix it, I will again hand-number all the entries in Photoshop like I did here. The Random Integer Generator at random.org will be used to pick the number of the winner.
  3. I’ll post the contest winner on Monday, January 21st. Winner will have one week to email me. There’s a link to my email at the top of the right sidebar.

And if you can’t wait to see if you won, here’s the link to the diary—just remember that price is in Hong Kong dollars. Good luck, and thanks to Daycraft for providing this sample!








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