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





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





Bags of Love A5 Custom Notebook

22 05 2013

One of my favorite emails to get is when a company approaches me out of the blue and offers me a product for review. Part of me worries for them a little bit, because I have high office supply standards, and I’ll feel bad if it turns out I hate whatever they so nicely offered me, or if it has some major terrible flaw (like a notebook with terrible paper (this has happened before, I contacted the company about it, that review remains in limbo)). LUCKILY FOR EVERYONE, THIS WAS NOT THE CASE HERE! So I can thank Bags of Love for providing this sample without any reservation.

Front, featuring a sunrise from my bedroom window. Back, featuring a sunset in Morocco. Both sides featuring reflection self-portrait shadows!

Front, featuring a sunrise from my bedroom window. Back, featuring a sunset in Morocco. Both sides featuring reflection self-portrait shadows!

The way this company works is they take photos you upload to the site and make personalized gifts—in this case, a notebook. This only narrowly avoided being a notebook of my cat; the pictures I had taken with my real camera of a sunrise out my bedroom window and a sunset in Morocco were better quality than a thousand iPhone cat pictures.

The notebook is a glossy soft cover. It looks beautiful and you can touch it all you want. The photographs I used turned out wonderfully, with solid blacks and rich colors, just as they looked on my computer screen, and the design/upload interface on the website was easy to use.

The downside to it being a soft cover though is I just know these corners are going to get dinged up, and the spine will end up creased and lined like any paperback.

Crease damage to top of spine. Typical for paperback books.

Crease damage to top of spine. Typical for paperback books.

Now for the good news. No, the fantastic news. THIS PAPER IS WONDERFUL. I had no idea. I didn’t have the slightest clue going in. I looked at the cream-colored, unlined paper and braced myself for enough feathering to cover an outdated dinosaur model and enough bleedthrough to designate the notebook a crime scene…and got none of it! Not the slightest fuzz!

EVERYTHING IS BEAUTIFUL

EVERYTHING IS BEAUTIFUL

Even my broad nibbed Pilot Vanishing Point, which throws down ink like it’s going out of style, it was able to handle with ease. You can somewhat see the shadow of the previous page’s writing, but nothing so bad that it would stop me from using both sides of the page.

DSCN0043

Lines crisp and both sides of the page usable

I got the A5 size (8×6″), but they also offer A6 (6×4.5″) notebooks. Says it’s got 150 sides of paper…I don’t feel like counting. I can tell you it is a decent but manageable amount of paper. I don’t like a notebook with too much paper, because then it’s too heavy to carry around in a casual bag. And being unlined, I can use this notebook for writing OR drawing.

A bit thicker than a standard writing utensil

A bit thicker than a standard writing utensil

Price-wise, this is definitely a case of getting what you pay for. This is a high-quality custom-cover notebook. Something from, say, CafePress would be cheaper, but have you ever actually ordered things from CafePress? I have. I got a custom shirt so poorly made that the shirt pieces weren’t properly aligned when it was sewn and there was a hole in the side of the shirt. I have a friend who ordered a custom SIGG water bottle and received a cheap knockoff. Maybe those kind of shenanigans fly when you’re trying to make custom things for yourself, but you want a gift for someone? Bags of Love is going to give you a quality product that you won’t have to be embarrassed about when you give it. And they are capable of some CRAZY fast shipping if you need it. I don’t know how much it costs, but this thing was in my hands all the way from across the Atlantic Ocean within 24 hours of my being notified it had shipped.

Freshly wrapped!

Freshly wrapped! Even on an unattractive plastic table it looks lovely!

Good paper is worth its weight in gold to me. This notebook is full of good paper. My only complaints are those which plague the very nature of all paperback notebooks. This is a solid product, and I would gladly spend my own money with Bags of Love. Thanks again to them for providing this sample!

Custom Pocket Notebook at Bags of Love





DIY Phone+book Case

27 12 2012

This is a project that anyone with a complete disregard for the mind-numbing tedium involved can complete.

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Making this project will turn you into a hipster lunatic, as pictured here

You’ll need a sharp knife, some kind of proper glue (for unfathomable reasons I chose a glue stick—Pioneer extra strong permanent bonding), a pencil, and a phone thin enough to fit in a notebook. Or a notebook thick enough to conceal your lumbering phone.

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Not pictured: the requisite phone for the case

Unless you really hate your writing, you’ll want to get an unused notebook, preferably one with useless paper. No sense wasting good paper.

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Got this on sale when Borders went under. Cool cover, but blank/plain Moleskine paper is pretty much the worst. Finally found a use for it!

The easy part: hold the phone next to the paper of the notebook, so you can see how far down in the depth of the paper will be sufficient to fully conceal the phone. Open up the notebook where, if the phone were in the notebook, the page would be flush with the screen.

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This is the worst tutorial explanation.

Put your phone where you want it to nest on the page and carefully trace around it. Scream like a pterodactyl when you still manage to get graphite on your precious technological baby. Once you have your outline, start cutting. A metal ruler helps on the straight edges. Check your work periodically–get all the paper dust out of the hole and see how your phone fits. Keep cutting until the phone in the hole is flush with the top cut page. Once that’s done, start gluing. This part will be tedious. Say goodbye to huge swaths of time. Question your decision to undertake this project. Once you’ve glued all the cut pages together AND THE GLUE IS DRY, check your work again. You’ll probably have to do some touch-up trimming for the phone to fit properly again.

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Almost like you can’t even tell. I swear it looks a little better in person. With the band on. With the phone actually inside instead of taking the picture.

When it’s done, the glue and your inability to line up the pages properly will give the notebook a slightly used look while concealing what’s inside. The downside: no access to ports, buttons, or the main camera. The upside: UNPARALLELED STEALTH.

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And unparalleled nostalgia.

And I’ve left access to the back pocket, as well as some pages in front and back in case I absolutely need to write something on paper. It’s surprisingly secure (I cut carefully to make sure it would fit just so, though it will undoubtedly get looser over time) yet easy to get out by pushing on the back of the pages and flexing the block of glued pages a bit.
Or if you’ve got money to drop, you might do better to either get something like theGOODbook case, or pay someone to go insane making one for you.








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