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





Mythology A5 Black Hard Cover Notebook

6 04 2014

The Mythology notebook is…strange. No other word for it.

Black is classy. Silver is classy. Black and silver metallic snakeskin, say, pants, on the other hand, would be questionable. So where does this notebook fall on that spectrum

Black is classy. Silver is classy. Black and silver metallic snakeskin, say, pants, on the other hand, would be questionable. So where does this notebook fall on that spectrum?

The duo-tone leatherette casebound hard cover features two types of silvery faux skin: snake, and who knows what (I can’t think of what animal has oval bump patterned skin, so we’ll say “miniature basketball”). It feels durable, and the rounded corners are smart—helps keep them from getting banged up.

You may be wondering how many shades of grey this notebook possesses, and I'm here to tell you it is not an erotically significant number. Like, maybe a dozen tops.

You may be wondering how many shades of grey this notebook possesses, and I’m here to tell you it is NOT an erotically significant number. Like, maybe a dozen max.

Between the decorations and the word “MYTHOLOGY” printed on the spine, I feel like I should be writing some kind of deitastic legends/fan fiction…I’m thinking “The Modern Mythology of Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent God / Goth Prince.” Part 1.

Coming soon to the New York Times Bestseller list near you

Coming soon to the New York Times Bestseller list near you

The book-style hardcover is an interesting choice. I feel like I’ve checked out the World’s Weirdest Library Book. Normally I’m used to my hardcover notebooks being more…notebooky. I don’t know how I feel about it. I don’t think I’d use this to write out random lists, thoughts, etc. I’ll put my grocery list down in my daily Leuchtturm1917 but not in the Mythology.

In spite of what you may see before you, this paper is white

In spite of what you may see before you, this paper is white

The paper is standard, not particularly fountain pen friendly unless you’re using lighter colored ink (like the J. Herbin Vert Pré) or magical ink (such as the Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa Iron Gall ink). Finer nibs and writing in cursive also helps. Rollerballs, the few I have anyway, performed meh. Ballpoint, gel, and felt tips like the Sakura Pigma Micron are all good.

This will probably be the first notebook your descendants grab to crack open after your will has been read.

This is not a notebook designed for hiding

If you’ve been looking for something completely different in the notebook department, the Mythology fits the bill.

Grandluxe Mythology A5 Notebook – Black at Amazon 





Dialogue A5 Lined Notebook – Fuschia Pink

16 03 2014

This Paperluxe Dialogue notebook by Grandluxe seems to combine some of my least favorite things about a notebook—big, floppy soft cover, horizontal elastic closure, horrendous shade of pink, no storage pocket, and paper of questionable quality.

Eating this notebook will do nothing to cure nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, or diarrhea.

Eating this notebook will do nothing to cure nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, or diarrhea.

This plain Dialogue is a lot like the Quotes Dialogue, only instead of having a quote embossed in the cover you have the imprint of the elastic digging into the Italian polyurethane.

The quote is just like one long hyphen

The quote is just like one long hyphen

Already you can see some wear to the cover going on—this is why I tend to prefer a hardcover notebook.

Not using both sides of the paper is deeply troubling to me

Not using both sides of the paper is deeply troubling to me

I don’t know what to make of this paper. Definitely no point in printing lines on these blank backs, because most everything shows or bleeds through. Gel pens and ballpoints aren’t much problem. Cheapo Pilot rollerballs seem to fare better than the more fancy/expensive Parker and Sheaffer models. Fountain pens, on the other hand, seem to be a complete mixed bag. Most all of them seemed pretty terrible on this paper, exception a Bic disposable (that has a nib I’ve done a little work on) and the Kaweco Sport which look ok, and the Sheaffer Connaisseur, the Pelikan M150, and the Zait Fountain Pen (all rocking Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa iron gall ink) that seem to do the best.

Scabiosa iron gall ink by Rohrer & Klingner: possibly magical

Scabiosa iron gall ink by Rohrer & Klingner: possibly magical

This isn’t the kind of paper you can just start writing on with whatever fountain pen you like and expect everything to look normal. None of it looks quite normal, especially close up. The thing that seems to be happening is that this paper absorbs ink very quickly. Thus, the show/bleedthrough, the occasional fuzzing, and the generally slightly off-color appearance of the inks. There’s a definite trade-off when it comes to this paper. Faster drying time (and decent enough looking writing with the right pen/ink), but you can only use one side of the page.

Start a dialogue...with yourself

Start a dialogue…with yourself

My first snap judgment of this notebook was a little harsh—once I got to know it, I could appreciate its benefits (except for the pink; that’s still terrible). Luckily for the world, it comes in other colors. If you’re looking for a soft notebook you can jot in quickly, then the Dialogue might work for you.

Grandluxe/Paperluxe A5 Dialogue Notebook on Amazon





Grandluxe Dialogue Quotes Soft Note Book – Red A5 – Review & GIVEAWAY!

16 02 2014

Big, floppy notebooks aren’t really my thing, so this will be both a review and a giveaway. Hopefully someone else will get more enjoyment out of it. Thanks to Grandluxe for providing this sample!

Red is apparently my mortal enemy, as evidenced by my lack of ability to edit all these reds to the same hue. I really need to start taking pictures in the sunshine, instead of the vampiristic shadows available on my balcony...

Red is apparently my mortal enemy, as evidenced by my lack of ability to edit all these reds to the same hue. I really need to start taking pictures in the sunshine, instead of the vampiristic shadows available on my balcony…

The Dialogue Quotes features a soft-back polyurethane cover with matching elastic band (smart move, including the elastic band), with a quote-embossed cover.

TIME quote not to be confused with TIME magazine. No affiliation

TIME quote not to be confused with TIME magazine. No affiliation

The embossing is very nicely done. The whole notebook looks nice, but being softcover I worry it would get too badly roughed up in my prolonged possession.

This might be the most inaccurate color adjustment yet. Or maybe it's just this screen. MAYBE THIS PICTURE IS ACTUALLY PERFECT. But I'm going to wager a big ole probably not, since this paper is supposed to be cream colored.

This might be the most inaccurate color adjustment yet. Or maybe it’s just this screen. MAYBE THIS PICTURE IS ACTUALLY PERFECT. But I’m going to wager a big ole probably not, since this paper is supposed to be cream colored.

The cream-colored paper is lined on the front and blank on the back, though I wonder if this is just because bleedthrough is so bad that you can only use one side of the page. The paper drinks up the ink, spreads it out—at least for liquid ink pens like fountain pens and rollerballs. The upshot is fast drying time, but the writing looks terrible up close—liquid ink lines are fuzzy, not crisp. For ballpoint pens and gel ink pens, the paper is no problem, but if you like liquid ink, then this might not be the notebook for you.

Cutting board, table, chair, railing, apartment siding, and nature not included in giveaway

Cutting board, table, chair, railing, apartment siding, and nature not included in giveaway

Now, in honor of the day after the day after half-priced-chocolates-day (I always thought the 15th was half-priced chocolates day, until I walked into my local grocery purveyor on the 14th and espied shelves of 50% off heart-shaped chocolate boxes), and the fact that this notebook obviously isn’t the right notebook for me, I’d like to give this notebook away to someone who might better appreciate it. The first page was used for the writing sample, but otherwise it’s in good shape.

The rules:

  1. Because I am footing the bill and not feeling expansively dollartastic this month, I’m going to limit this giveaway to the U.S. only. Just leave one comment on this post advising that you’d give this poor notebook a good home any time between now and Monday, February 24th 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time.
  2. One winner will be picked at random from the comments section of this post. Only one comment per person! 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. I will hand-number the entries in Photoshop because apparently that’s how I roll. 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 Tuesday, February 25th. Winner will have one week to email me. There’s a link to my email at the top of the right sidebar.

In the meantime, if you’re interested in a brand new Dialogue Quotes Soft Notebook of your own, you can get them from Grandluxe right here on Amazon.





Monologue Jotter A5 – Blue Cover

6 11 2013
Front and back. Allegedly this is a blue cover, navy more like. That kind of navy you keep thinking is black until you put it next to something actually black.

Front and back. Allegedly this is a blue cover, navy more like. That kind of navy you keep thinking is black until you put it next to something actually black.

As previously established, I am a fan of hiding things in notebooks. The Monologue Jotter is just the kind of notebook I want to exist—you’ve got the sleek notebook profile with the convenient functionality of a pen loop. A big thank you to Grandluxe for providing this sample for review.

Pen loop empty, pen loop with a Lamy Pur fountain pen, pen loop with the mechanical pencil it comes with

Pen loop empty, pen loop with a Lamy Pur fountain pen, pen loop with the mechanical pencil it comes with

Unlike an add-on, sticking-out pen loop, this Jotter loop is streamlined right into the side of the notebook. No worrying about your pen falling out or getting knocked off. You pick a perfect pen to pair with this notebook, and then here you have everything you need to carry along for a writing session.

A small sampling of some of the pens that fit. Not all at the same time, obviously.

A small sampling of some of the pens that fit. Not all at the same time, obviously.

Not every pen will fit, but many do. A general rule of thumb: no pens taller than 5 & 3/8 inches, and slick barrels tend to do better than ones with rubbery grips (that rubbery-bodied Jetstream up there was a tough fit). The Monologue Jotter comes with a classy, ballpoint-pen-looking mechanical pencil.

Ballpencil?

Ballpencil?

The pencil is a brilliant move on the seller’s end—you could let this product sit on a shelf indefinitely (though I doubt it would) and never have to worry whether the included implement will write when the customer busts it out. It’s a pencil, of course it will write. Two odd points to note about the pencil: you have to twist the barrel to advance the lead (like you would twist some pens to advance the refill), and I can’t find an eraser on it.

The Jotter and my Lamy get along well

The Jotter and my Lamy get along well

Like the large Monologue Ruled Notebook, the Monologue Jotter handles most fountain pen ink well. The major exceptions are Pilot Petit 1 fountain pens, and printing with broad-nibbed pens (especially with darker ink). Myself, I’ve paired my suede polyurethane Jotter (admittedly my least favorite polyurethane texture, by the way)  with a silver Lamy Pur, extra fine nib, Lamy blue cartridge ink, and it’s doing wonderfully: no bleedthrough, no bad show-through, no fuzzing, no feathering, great drying time (I’ve had no problems while handwriting this review in the notebook).

BUT WAIT, THERE IS MORE

BUT WAIT, THERE IS MORE

I didn’t realize until reading around on some other reviews of the Monologue Jotter that the paper is divided into two sections—lined in the front half, blank with a frame around it in the back half. You know what this means? I’ve been carrying around a notebook AND a sketchbook THIS WHOLE TIME. Mind = blown. Probably an annoying feature if you have no use for blank pages, but if you want to brainstorm or scribble down some doodles too, you’ve only got to carry around one notebook. It’s a little weird, yes, but I’m down with it.

Look how sleek!

Look how sleek!

The only thing I need to make this THE ultimate perfect notebook is a smooth polyurethane cover. Maybe more color choices? Other paper options? Maybe one day!

Monologue Jotter A5 at Grandluxe Online Store





Monologue Ruled Notebooks (A5, A6, A7, & A8)

30 09 2013
Four notebooks all at once! We can do this!

Four notebooks all at once! We can do this!

The obvious comparison to make for these notebooks is the Rhodia Webnotebook, so let’s go ahead and get it out of the way. Where the Rhodia Webbie only comes in A5 and A6, the Monologue ruled notebooks come in A5, A6, and the even smaller A7 and A8.

Costing more does not protect the Webbie cover from being damaged by the elastic band, just like the Monologue

Costing more does not protect the Webbie cover from being damaged by the elastic band

They all have the same basic design: a soft-to-the-touch hardback leatherette/polyurethane cover, with strong elastic bands pressing dents in the top and bottom of the cover; silk ribbon bookmarks and back pockets. And they’re both filled with paper (a quality point of some significant divergence between the two). In terms of the outside, they’re nearly equivalent. It’s almost impossible to tell if the Rhodia or the Monologue has a smoother cover; I’ve sat here for several minutes rubbing notebooks on my face and I still can’t make up my mind.

Do not be fooled, this cheesy yellow orange is more of a goldenrod when you get the notebook by itself. I promise

Do not be fooled, this cheesy yellow orange is more of a goldenrod when you get the notebook by itself. I promise

The color of the four notebooks I received are fantastic for the start of fall—the A5 is a warm brown that falls somewhere between milk chocolate and 70% cacao; the purple is a lovely shade that looks pretty close to such impressive-sounding Wikipedia-defined hues as royal purple or pomp and power, with its elastic band a striking lighter shade (I’d hazard a guess at an actual color name, but I’m getting tired of squinting and holding the notebook up to the screen). The olive green A7 is a good color to hold onto—a last bit of verdancy before the leaves turn warm and start to fall. And the palm-sized goldenrod yellow A8? I can practically smell the bonfires and taste the long-awaited pumpkin spices, this color is so perfectly autumnal.

A8, A7, A6, and A5 writing samples, with reverse sides shown in order underneath, except the A5, that's the reverse side of a page full of broad-nibbed Vanishing Point writing

A8, A7, A6, and A5 writing samples, with reverse sides shown in order underneath, except the A5, that’s the reverse side of a page full of broad-nibbed Vanishing Point writing

A funny thing happens with the Monologue notebook series—the bigger the notebook, the better it’s able to handle liquid ink. There’s no immediately obvious reason WHY this is the case; all four notebooks claim to contain 80gsm cream-colored acid-free paper. It’s not how big or small I’m writing; writing large in the little notebooks with a broad-nibbed fountain pen still looks terrible.

The greatest paper-based mystery of our times

The greatest paper-based mystery of our times

I don’t know what to make of it. The wee A8 is hemorrhaging ink through the page so bad I’ve got half a mind to call an ambulance for it, while the larger A5 is letting this broad-nib Vanishing Point lay down crisp lines with only minimal showthrough and only an occasional dot of bleedthrough. It’s negligible enough to comfortably use both sides of the page. Dry time is good—beginning of a line is dry before I get to the end of the line. How is the A5 doing this? Why doesn’t liquid ink do well in any of the others? Is it magic? I am both confused, and impressed.

Too many words. Better break things up with pictures.

Too many words. Better break things up with pictures.

It’s difficult to review in aggregate a set of notebooks whose paper behaves differently depending on the size of the notebook. I would be interested to know if these differences I’m seeing holds true across multiple other samples and other peoples’ experiences. I’d like to make some recommendations anyway, based on the performance of the notebooks I’ve got.

For a sense of relative scale. Line spacing in the A5: 7mm

For a sense of relative scale. Line spacing in the A5: 7mm

100% fountain pens. They do so well, why not use them? Unless you don’t like fountain pens, in which case I’m making funny eyes at you. This paper did well with every kind of writing utensil except for the Pilot Petit 1, which I’m starting to realize does uniquely poorly on many kinds of paper. Though you could really use any pen with this notebook, for me it will be exclusively the domain of the fountain pens.

Line spacing in the A6: 6mm

Line spacing in the A6: 6mm

The purple A6 is the limit when it comes to fountain pen use—and even then I would only advise very fine Japanese nibs. And even then, when you look very close you can tell that the lines aren’t perfect. You start to get fuzzing, you see more spots of bleedthrough. So really, I wouldn’t recommend fountain pens at all in this notebook. For this notebook I’m feeling super-smooth ballpoints and brightly-colored broad gel pens. This notebook is a good pocket size that’s still big enough to jot down a short story, and for that, I want a pen that flows.

Line spacing in the A7: 6mm

Line spacing in the A7: 6mm

The A7 is a bit too small to write out big chunks of prose. This size—a size that actually fits easily in a back pocket—is more suited to an everyday all-purposes notebook, or perhaps good for poetry. It’s small enough to blend into an everyday carry, while still having enough space to fit a thought on the page. For this notebook, I’d stick with gel pens and ballpoints 0.5mm or lower. I’m particularly loving the look of my 0.38mm dark red Pilot Juice on this paper—it’s perfect for this notebook.

Line spacing on the A8: 5mm

Line spacing on the A8: 5mm

If ever a notebook was made with micro-tip gel pens in mind, it’s this ridiculously tiny notebook. I love miniatures. You want me to impulse buy something? Put out a tiny version of it. This is undoubtedly, adorably the smallest hardcover notebook I own. Pretty sure it’s small enough to qualify as a choking hazard (if your child has a big mouth or is a hinged-jawed python). This is the only notebook without a back pocket (but what would you put in it, stamps?). If Rhodia and Moleskine had a baby, it would be this little notebook: smooth cover and fountain pen unfriendly paper. Bust out your absolute smallest micro tip gel pens—and ballpoints if you have them—and write the tiniest thoughts you can think. Might even be worth getting your hands on a Uni Signo Bit 0.18mm.

A size for however big your thoughts are that day

A size for however big your thoughts are that day

Ultimately, the overall Monologue line of ruled notebooks can’t compare on paper quality to the Rhodia Webnotebook, but then, the Monologue is in a whole different price bracket. And especially if you’re not among the fountain pen obsessed like I am, and regularly do your writing with ballpoints and gel pens, and are looking for that leatherette-feel without paying fountain-pen-paper prices, you might look into the Monologue Ruled Notebook.

Monologue Ruled Notebooks are carried in the Grandluxe online store, and on their Amazon store. And they have their own Facebook page, if that sort of thing appeals to you.





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








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