Kokuyo Systemic Refillable Notebook Cover – A6 – Khaki/Navy

1 02 2018

This will be a review of the cover only, because when I won this refillable cover with notebook at pen club last year, I realized that it would perfectly fit the Hobonichi Avec. I took the notebook out, put the Avec in, and somewhere in my possessions the Kokuyo is still chillin. It’s probably a great notebook. Who knows. Not me.

Yo dawg I heard you like notebooks so I put a notebook on your notebook so you can plan while you’re planning

The cover, however, I know is solid money. I’m not of the planner school of thought where you have a five-foot-thick stuffed planner whose two shapes are elastic-bound stepstool and, unleashed, barely usable rainbow. But I do like my planner and cover combo to bring some utility to the game—carry some essential sticker sheets, spare receipts, a washi tape card, etc. The Kokuyo Systemic cover brings that perfect amount of function and protection without adding too much bulk to the planner.

Cat stickers, passport, and meta-charm not included

The outside has a pocket front and back to easily hold sticker sheets, tickets, or other bits of paper you want easily accessible. And I guess you can tuck a pen in there, but I’m not wild about that concept, as I’m concerned about it deforming overtime. The elastic is sturdy, and the canvas cover has resisted dirt, grime, and other purse perils amazingly well. You can also clip a charm to the bookmark ribbon outside, if that’s your jam. The bookmark ribbon, since it’s knotted, isn’t going to be pulled out by any charm you put outside. As a bookmark, it’s simple, effective, and so far has yet to fray. And it’s easily replaceable if you want to customize.

So much artistic stuff and I did none of it. Except put the washi tape on the card. The ‘january’ is for tracing into my Hippo Noto once it arrives

The front and back of the cover’s inside has plastic flaps you insert the notebook into, with extra cutouts in those flaps to provide further pocket function. The front has a split halfway down that I’ve been tucking a month’s worth of receipts into. The back has a split halfway down plus a card slot on the bottom half. I’ve been using the card slot to hold one of my washi tape cards, with some artwork from a friend tucked up top. When I have cash money to spare I might also slip a bill back here for rainy day emergencies. I also keep a pencil board in among the pages of the Hobonichi, and one of those little folders slipped in the back. The elastic band does a perfect job of keeping everything contained.

If people are putting their full sized Hobonichis in these things, I don’t know how. Seems like it would be too big.

The Kokuyo Systemic refillable notebook cover is something I would have probably never come up with on my own to house my Hobonichi Avec, but now that I have it I don’t know how I got along without. My only suggestion would be more colorways, perhaps—it also comes in a Khaki/Brown, but that’s hardly a panoply of choice. There’s also semi B5 and A5 sized refillable covers, if you live your life with notebooks that big.

Kokuyo Systemic Refillable Notebook Cover – A6 – Khaki/Navy at JetPens

Galen Leather Goods – 3 Pocket Notebook Holder and 2 Pen Holder

26 09 2016

I cannot resist leather goods. I could easily go full vegetarian, but I just can’t give up my leather stationery products. I’m sorry animal friends. I hope you lived a good life.

And dreamed of one day holding notebooks

And dreamed of one day holding notebooks

So when Galen Leather Goods emailed me as well about trying their leather stuffs, I couldn’t type yes fast enough. The pictures on their website looked good, and I couldn’t wait to see them in person. Just to mix it up, I opted for brightly colored options—a yellow Traveler’s style pocket notebook cover with leather 2 pen holder, and a purple Pocket Moleskine Journal cover. Today I’ll be reviewing the former.

Shiny and new

Shiny and new

The packaging is on point, with excellent design and a box so sturdy I can’t bear to part with it. I don’t know the intricacies of international shipping (Galen Leather Goods hail from Turkey), but it’s nice to know the product has protection for the journey. It also came with a little evil eye charm and neatly printed instructions for such things as leather care. I’ve spoken extensively with my evil eye charm and it has an express understanding to especially ward off writer’s block and dried up ink.

I will miss how this made my notebook holder look like a googly-eyed monster

I will miss how this made my notebook holder look like a googly-eyed monster

Let’s get out of the way what didn’t work for me: the pen holder. It’s a terrific pen holder, but being integrated into the elastic band holding the book shut on such a small notebook holder, it was too bulky of an attachment. While I had it on, I rarely used the notebooks inside the holder—as long as it was shut, everything was fine, but opened up there was nowhere for the thing to effectively go. I love the brass charm it came with, but I did have some worry that the edges needed to be more rounded off lest they do any damage to the leather. When I took off the pen holder, I ended up taking the charm off as well and replaced them both with a simple coin I had lying around—enough to weigh the elastic down when I take it off, but nothing that will get in the way. Now I use this thing all the time. The notebook did come with a good measure of spare green elastic band, so I think the option to take the pen holder off was intended and not just my nefarious doing.

Notebook 1: NC Field Notes (full of my opinions of places I've eaten); notebook 2: Tomoe River scratch paper Fountain Pen Day notebook; notebook 3: rotates, currently the Field Notes Two Rivers cover I filled with Tomoe River Paper

Notebook 1: NC Field Notes (full of my opinions of places I’ve eaten); notebook 2: Tomoe River Fountain Pen Day notebook used for scratch paper; notebook 3: rotates, currently the Field Notes Two Rivers cover I filled with Tomoe River Paper

The dyed leather is wonderfully vibrant and consistent. It feels like it’s gotten better, perhaps softer over time? It’s molding to my life, and I’ve been trucking it around for a few months now. I doubt I would have chosen green as the color to go with yellow, but I’ve come to like it. The size is perfect, safely enclosing three pocket notebooks without being any bigger than needed.


Exactly perfect

The edges are all burnished, a bit rugged in spots but altogether I love this little notebook holder. Three is a perfect number of notebooks for both daily life and adventures, and I like being able to easily swap them out as needed.

Perfect for adventure

Perfect for adventure

I am still looking for a way to incorporate the pen holder into my life (a necklace? attached to velcro? It’s currently on its own little loop of elastic but I don’t know the right notebook to wrap it around to integrate into my routines). But this notebook holder with its beautiful and reliable leather has become a must-carry in my EDC.


Get one of your own at Galen Leather Goods

And here’s the pen holder, if I haven’t dissuaded you from it


(Galen Leather Goods provided this product at no charge for reviewing purposes–opinions entirely my own)

Gfeller Casemakers Leather Cover / Clairefontaine My.essential Notebook

28 08 2016

First, you get the fancy pens. Then, you get the special inks to put in the fancy pens, followed by the nice paper for writing on with the fancy pens filled with special inks. The pens get carrying cases. Now, we are entering the stage of the illness addiction insanity hobby where the nice paper gets a spiffy carrying vehicle too. A step up from whatever cardboard claptrap it came factory-clad in. No material better answers that call than leather.

A wild notebook appears

I was fortunate enough to be one of two winners of the giveaway of a Gfeller Casemakers leather notebook cover and a new Clairefontaine My.essential notebook. I’ve given the products a couple months in the rotation, and now it’s time to pass judgment. Let’s start with the leather cover:

When computer screens are able to broadcast tactile sensations I will add the feel of this leather to my review for you all to enjoy

The leather is soft. Luscious, luxurious, rub it on your face soft. I have a pair of Italian leather gloves that are softer, but not by much. The light color worries me–will I stain it? Will I ruin it irrevocably in some unforeseen manner? But this concern is not unique to this case; I would feel the same about any light-colored leather. The notebook cover is well-made with smart details–the flaps that the notebook covers tuck into come much further in than I’ve seen on any other notebook cover, to avoid creating a bulge line under the page, and there is a cut out in the back flap to allow use of the elastic band attached to the notebook. It integrates well. The quality is solid. I’m thinking of getting a Gfeller notebook cover for my Hobonichi, I’m liking this cover so much.

Would I like this as much with no notebook cover? Probably not. I like my medium to large notebooks with a bit of sturdiness to them

On to the My.essential notebook, which the Clairefontaine people told me is a new product that will be available later this year (or possibly already, the email was a few months ago). I’m kind of surprised that this didn’t exist already in the Clairefontaine and/or Rhodia line-up: a paginated notebook with a table of contents, headers on each page, filled with high quality Clairefontaine 90gsm paper. It really feels like this should have already been around. It’s a wonderfully usable format.

Here is what cream colored paper looks like at sunrise, in case you were wondering

In design, the My.essential notebook is very similar to my beloved Leuchtturm 1917. The My.essential is a soft cover with camel-colored leatherlike cardboard pattern, quarter pockets in front and back, and dark brown elastic band and ribbon. It really has everything essential to a good notebook, unless you prefer hardcover. But that’s what the leather notebook cover is for! I have no complaints against this notebook, and hope they’ll be releasing editions besides just lined. Maybe include a 2nd bookmark for bullet journaling? There’s not a whole lot to say; it’s a darn good notebook with fountain pen friendly paper. That’s a Clairefontaine product for you.


Various Gfeller Casemakers Leather Covers

The giveaway & fan profile of Steve Derricott at Rhodia Drive


(The notebook and cover were won by me in a giveaway, thus I received them for free. Opinions entirely my own)


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 

Nock Co. Maryapple Two Memo Book Bi-Fold

2 03 2014

It was with much excitement and internal delighted shrieking that my modest reward tier from Nock Co.’s Kickstarter arrived (I resisted getting All the Cases, because I’ve got to be fiscally responsible / leave more cases to buy later at some point). I can safely say they live up to the hype.



Naturally, I’m comparing this to the prototype I received, but it’s not a direct apples-to-apples comparison—it’s more Maryapples to Hightowers.



The finished product is even better than the prototype—the edges are neatly finished and sealed, and look at that solid bar tacking between the pockets! You’d probably have to Hulk out hardcore to get that to even begin to rip.

Or stab it. But I’m not going to try that

Or stab it. But I’m not going to try that

The outside of the Maryapple is made of a heavy 1000D nylon with durable water resistant coating, inside is smooth pack cloth (also with DWR coating)—it feels sturdy. I don’t worry about throwing this baby in bags or pockets. And this mandarin/mango color combo looks great.

Looks great, sounds delicious. Just try to tell me you'd turn down a mandarin mango smoothie

Looks great, sounds delicious. Just try to tell me you’d turn down a mandarin mango smoothie

Inside you’ve got two notebook pockets—remember everything you could fit in the Hightower notebook pocket? Multiply that by two. I’m currently pairing my Quo Vadis Miniweek with a 9x14cm Clairefontaine notebook, but sometimes I’ll throw my phone in there instead. Why not? It fits.

Fun fact: the cases are named after mountains in Georgia!

Fun fact: the cases are named after mountains in Georgia!

This notebook holder is high quality, made-in-the-USA goods. I can’t wait until they finish filling the Kickstarter orders and open for general business (keep your eyes on Nock Co. and your wallets ready). I’m pretty sure this Maryapple is just dying to have a Sassafras to go along with it!

The Maryapple Two Memo Book Bi-Fold by Nock Co.