Tag Archives: Everyday Notebooks

Midori Notebook Refill Review – #012 Sketchbook Paper

When I received my new fauxdori from Jot, I immediately ordered four Midori Traveler’s Notebook refills from Amazon to fully test it out. My series of reviews consists of:

The last refill I’m reviewing in the #012 drawing or sketchbook paper refill, available from Goulet Pens and JetPens. I’d heard rumors it behaved reasonably well with watercolors too, so I decided to give it a go.

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First impressions, it’s thick, heavy paper. Neither Goulet nor JetPens lists the paper weight. From JetPens, “The pages are a smooth, heavyweight drawing paper, perfect for sketching, drawing, and watercolors.”

The stapled notebook itself is noticeably fatter but only contains 24 sheets (48 pages). In this pic from top to bottom: #019 Weekly Planner, #002 Grid Paper, #013 Lightweight Paper, and #012 Drawing Paper.

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The paper has a heavy cardstock feel, with a slight tooth – definitely not as silky smooth as my beloved Stillman and Birn Zeta Series sketchbooks, but not as textured as Moleskine Watercolor Sketchbooks. I tested with pencil first, using my favored clutch lead holder with 3.2mm 6B lead from Kaweco. The soft lead blends really well with just a finger, and just feels good with the pencil.

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Next up, how do fountain pens write on this paper! Tests using my usual currently inked pens. Immediate first impressions – no pretty red sheen OR glitter effects with Emerald of Chivor. It just looks dark green, which BOOO. And you can see some slight feathering in close-up too depending on the ink.

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Continued close-ups.

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Full page, with waterbrush tests at the bottom of the page.

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Close-up of waterbrush and FP ink tests.

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Did I mention all the pages in this notebook are PERFORATED!? How cool is that? The paper handled the waterbrush well enough – it didn’t start to disintegrate or pill like I’ve had other papers do, but it also wasn’t perfect either – it made the page get all ripply.

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The waterbrush also caused some bleedthrough – and you can really see the ripples it caused in this pic.

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Next up, testing some Peerless Watercolors.

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Close up on the paint tests I did on the same backside of the fountain pen samples page.

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The paints don’t bleed through or show anything on the other side of the page, but they did make it all rippled, as described earlier.

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Conclusions. I like it a lot, I think with markers and light washes it will probably be fantastic. It definitely loves pencil sketches too. More comprehensive watercolor sketches might benefit from a heavier weight paper – this feels almost like a 180gsm paper or so, definitely not as heavy as the 270 gsm Stillman and Birn Zeta. But overall I like it – I’m sure I can find a use for it in the future.

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Midori Notebook Refill Review – #013 Lightweight Paper

Continuing my series of reviews of my Midori Traveler’s Notebook Refills that started with:

Tonight I’m reviewing the #013 Lightweight Paper Refill, available from Goulet Pens and JetPens. I’d heard rumors it was a close comparison to the legendary Tomoe River Paper, so of course I HAD to test it out.

I’m feeling lazy tonight so here are the vital stats directly from the Goulet website: “This refill for the regular size Midori Traveler’s Notebook measures 11cm x 21cm (approximately 4.33in x 8.25in), and contains 64 sheets (128 pages) of white blank paper. Refill made of light, thin paper. Contains twice the pages of regular refills (128 pages), this is recommended for users who do a lot of writing.

But according to JetPens, it actually HAS Tomoe River Paper inside it: “This is a notebook refill for the regular size Midori Traveler’s Notebook leather cover. It contains white Tomoe River (Tomoegawa) paper, which is renowned for its smooth texture that is perfect for fountain pens and various other writing tools. At 52 gsm, the thin and delicate pages are designed to reduce bulk. Despite its thinness, the paper is incredibly reliable. The sheets are resistant to bleedthrough and feathering, and can handle a variety of inks. Tomoe River paper is ideal for those who love to write and are seeking to streamline their notebooks and binders, or for those who just love the feel of fine, subtle paper. The notebook is compact, with 128 pages packed into its slim profile.”

So, first impressions. The notebook is packaged the same as other Midori refills.

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But what we all want to know is how it takes fountain pens!! So here’s my swatches from currently inked pens. All the colors really pop against the white paper! Can you see how the Emerald of Chivor already seems really red when written with my Noodlers Ahab?

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No feathering, no bleeding – beautiful paper. And of course, I had to test a waterbrush on it.

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Do you SEE the gorgeous red sheen on this paper!? Oh. My. Goodness. LOOOOOOK!

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The back side of the same page. The paper when run over with a waterbrush gets really ripply at first, but then smooths out a little as it dries, and you barely notice it. As seen in the pic below, definite ghosting as is typical of Tomoe River Paper, but no bleedthrough, except for a tiny part I ran over with the waterbrush too many times.

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The obvious ghosting can be distracting to newcomers to this lightweight style of paper. A common suggestion is to put a heavier piece of paper behind it when writing, and then you don’t notice the ghosting as much. For comparison purposes, here is a bright pink piece of paper behind the page. The ghosting is minimized somewhat, but you can still see it.

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This time, black paper is used behind the page to really minimize the ghosting effect. This makes the text on the other side much less distracting.

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Conclusions? I’m really excited to have a notebook full of Tomoe River Paper (whether real or very very similar!) and my initial pen tests show some amazing sheen and color quality. And it’s double the page count of a normal notebook, so it seems like win win. I definitely recommend trying this notebook out.

Midori Notebook Refill Review – #019 Weekly Planner

I’ve been reviewing the Midori refills I’ve ordered for my new Jot Fauxdori as they arrive. Last time was the #002 Grid Paper refill. I decided I needed a weekly agenda or planner refill too, to really evaluate the full Midori system, and settled on #019, Weekly Planner + Grid (see at Goulet and JetPens).

This notebook is regular/standard Midori size (about 8.25″ x 4.33″), and is 32 sheets (64 pages) of ivory paper with a stitched binding.

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First thoughts – the quirky end page. Is it meant to really be used? Or just a fun ‘hey-let’s-go-travel-wooo’ kind of thing?

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Second reaction? Ooh, I like the layout even more in person! From the description on the JetPens website: “The blank weekly planner pages give you the freedom to fill in your desired dates so you can start your planner at any time of the year! The notebook contains 6 months’ worth of pages. The days of the week are on the left side while gridded sheets for writing memos and diagrams are on the right.”

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The notebook also has a section with blank vertical columns for 12 months.

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I really like that the weekly planner notebook has a monthly column section. I always fill out the holidays I get the day off for first!

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BUT …. really missed having the day of the week at a glance with my monthly dates. So wrote them in with a lighter gray Staedtler Triplus Fineliner. I started to highlight my holidays too, and then decided against it when it smeared my FP ink. Thank goodness for Frixion highlighters!

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The next big thing to test was the paper quality when using fountain pens. Here’s my ink test from my currently inked pens. And finally a test with a waterbrush (had to use my stapler to hold the notebook down haha).

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The paper takes fountain pens surprisingly well. No feathering observed, and some nice red sheen evident with J. Herbin Emerald of Chivor. The paper got a little ripply with the waterbrush, but otherwise behaved better than I expected.

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The back of the same page. LOOK! While there is ghosting of the writing on the other page, there is no bleedthrough, even on the heavy flex nibbed Ahab! The waterbrush barely made an impact on the backside.

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All in all, I’m really impressed with the paper and layout of this weekly agenda and am excited to use it more.

Midori Notebook Refill Review – #002 Grid Paper

Well, I have a pretty pretty new fauxdori to play with and need inserts! I ordered four different refills, and as they come in will post reviews and impressions. Here’s the first of four. But first, a pic of my new cover from Jot. Featuring Unikitty!

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But back to the review. Grid paper is ALWAYS a good idea, so I started with the regular size Midori #002 refill. Regular size is about 4.3″ x 8.25″. This notebook is stapled and contains 32 sheets or 64 pages. You can get it from lots of different sources, but my two favorites are Goulet Pens or JetPens.

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The grid lines are a nice unobtrusive gray, and the paper surprisingly fountain pen friendly. Here is a sample of what I had currently inked. No feathering or bleeding!!

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A closer shot.

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The backside of the fountain pen scribbles.

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I decided to go a step further and test out some other pens I had at my desk, including Sharpies and a waterbrush. Paper behaves well with the waterbrush – not fantastic, but it doesn’t start to deteriorate as soon as it gets wet either, like in my Rhodia.

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The fat nibbed Sharpie definitely bled through to the backside.

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…. and onto the other page behind it.

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So then, the ultimate test now for me – how does J.Herbin Emerald of Chivor look on it!? You don’t get the red sheen that leaps off the page when on Tomoe River Paper, but you do get a great gold glittery effect.

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Ooooh the sparklies from this Noodlers Ahab….

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And the backside – still no bleedthrough!! Even with a wet wet ink in a flex nib! What great paper!!

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Conclusions: a great grid paper notebook! As a Midori newbie, I’m pleasantly surprised by the fountain pen friendliness of the paper here. Can’t wait to see how the other refills I have coming rank.

Experimenting with Fauxdori Notebooks (thanks Jot!)

What are fauxdoris you ask? Fauxdori notebooks are alternatives to Midori Traveler’s Notebooks – those collections of notebooks held together in a leather cover and closed with elastic string.

Read more about Midori notebooks from Ian Hedley’s blog called Pens! Paper! Pencils!:

Creative people making their own leather midori covers on Etsy is really taking off – hence the name “fauxdori”. So when my friend Cori started her own business not too long ago making her own fauxdori covers and planner accessories, I was (and still am) really excited for her. Her shop is called Jot, at www.livelaughjot.com. She makes covers in both the standard Midori sized, called ClassicJot, and a smaller purse-friendly size (think Moleskine or Field Notes notebook sized) called the PocketJot and then something else called the MiniJot (the traditional Midori “passport” size). Her covers come in some really fabulous colors! Check out a sample below from her Instagram feed (under the name @livelaughjot):

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The concept is better explained by Jot: “Simply stated, it is a refillable journal cover. Inside the cover are multiple strands of elastic to hold the notebooks in place. The notebook is held closed with an elastic loop. It enables you to carry multiple notebooks within a single cover and when you fill one up, you can swap it out for a fresh one and keep the same cover.”

Jot is really getting some steam going now, and Cori asked if I’d be willing to review a Jot notebook to help spread the word about them. I was honest with her in that I’d tried the fauxdori concept back in January with a Field Notes-sized notebook, and at the time couldn’t fall in love with it. I’d found a small cover on Ebay, and supplied the refill notebooks myself – fountain pen friendly of course, the Tomoe River Paper filled Curnow Bookbinding notebooks.

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But while I loved the color of my cover, it was a stiff fairly rigid piece of leather, and was “strung” to hold only one notebook. So I had to follow the Midori trick to get it to hold extra notebooks. And between the stiff cover and three notebooks, it was difficult to get the notebooks to lay smoothly enough to write on, which really bugged me. So I decided maybe it wasn’t for me and sold it.

But I told Cori I’d be happy to give it another try. It’s been awhile and I really do admire all the pretty planner covers every time I see them on Instagram. I ask myself, am I missing something?? So I choose a ClassicJot (“regular” or standard Midori size) this time, to see if that maybe changes my mind. Dimensions of these sizes are:

Dimensions (closed)
MiniJot 4.5 x 5 inches.
PocketJot 4.5 x 6 inches.
ClassicJot 5.5 x 8.5 inches.

I went with a gorgeous Peacock blue I’ve seen in her pics, one of which was included above.

All of her store items get packaged in her signature turquoise and red shop logo, as was the package I received this weekend.

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Upon opening the envelope, you immediately smell it – the glorious smell of LEATHER. OMG it smells so good!! Like I was wrapped up in a new leather jacket, or wearing new leather boots, or BOTH. I realize not everybody likes leather products, but for me …. dang it smells wonderful.

Inside the envelope is the notebook cover in its own special protective cloth bag, with the Jot logo.

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With great excitement, I pulled out the leather cover to reveal the ClassicJot in all of its Peacock glory. It really is a beautiful turquoisey blue color! Jot offers this color in both black and white elastic string options as of the time I was choosing them, and I went with white as I like how it looks against the blue.

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It’s a soft, flexible piece of textured leather, with rounded corners.

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The inside is the same color in unfinished leather.

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Close up of the inside of the cover.

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Jot notebooks come with one starter refill. Cori was generous and threw in a laminated planner “dashboard” and a pink planner charm.

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The refill notebook she sends with the Jots are surprisingly fountain pen friendly! Made in house with 24lb paper, there is some feathering. Here is a sample.

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And the back of that same page. Some ghosting but very little bleedthrough to the other side – the Micron Pigma Brush being the culprit.

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Impressions so far? I am liking this bigger size much much better!! I need to get a couple of additional inserts to really try it out as it was intended – and once I discovered that Midori makes refill notebooks with Tomoe River like paper (No. 013) and watercolor/sketchbook paper (No. 012), I had to order some ASAP to test them out. They should arrive later this week, so stay tuned for more updates! In the meantime, the Peacock color and pink planner charm matches my ‘Unicorn Barf’ pen REALLY well.

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Wanna try one for yourself? Jot ships worldwide now, and offers cute accessories as well as the notebooks themselves. Cori has very generously offered my readers a 15% discount code too – just type in CALVINWASRIGHT when checking out to take advantage of this reduced rate!

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Art Journaling or Daily Planning?

I’ve been in love with planners and organizers for a long time now. But in all my planner geek experiments, I’ve never really considered combining planner functions with bullet journals, notebooks, journals, and art journals too carefully. I started to give it some thought after being asked to write a guest post about it, and realized that over time I’ve been trying to combine lots of different elements into my planner. And maybe that’s why lately my planners never seem to quite “fit” what I want them to do? It’s hard to put my finger on what that is exactly, but something is missing. I’ve been trying to carry around quotes notebooks, planners, art journals, sketchbooks, notebooks for ink samples and fountain pen tests …. and it’s so hard to pick and choose each morning what to take with, when I might want any, all or none of the above that particular day!

So I was reading this blog post from Hali Karla about keeping an everyday art journal, and these words really resonated with me:

I can say that deciding to carry an “everyday art journal” was a game-changer for me. It’s really just an art journal or sketchbook that goes with me everywhere… I actually broke up with my standard planner after getting to know my everyday art journal (it really never worked out between me and the conventional planner no matter how hard we tried anyway).

I use it to jot down ideas, sketch or doodle when I have time to kill or need to pause and be present, to tack in photos and fodder, or capture wise or inspiring words from others that may come my way. Sometimes I write prayers in it, or recipes. I even keep my lists in it. To-do lists, not-to-do lists, shopping lists, gratitude lists, travel itinerary details – all of which can be painted or glued over later if I feel the urge… It really isn’t just an everyday journal – it’s an everything journal for me.

The real beauty of it, though, is that having it all within one cover, over a period of time, makes it really easy to begin to see patterns in my life… I keep other art journals, too – and they often have a variety of styles and flavors within the pages. Yet, while the everyday journal isn’t the prettiest journal I keep, by any means, it’s one of the most precious to my journey.

So I think this might be the next step in my art journal/planner evolution – create an informal planner that’s an “everything journal” first, and a calendar second – instead of the other way around. It seems so revolutionary! But now I really want to try it. But it’s kind of an intimidating thought. I’d love to hear from someone who has done something similar – I can’t find many other examples online.

I’ll leave with this description of an Art Journal from Jane Davenport:

It’s a mix of diary, travel memoir, autobiography, art therapist, visual diary, notebook, scrapbook and sketchbook….plus more… It’s a place, YOUR space, to record and work through your life experience in images, words, colours and collage.

There are NO RULES.

Some links on other great blog posts about art journals, planners and commonplace journals:

“You may want to keep a commonplace book which is a notebook where you can copy parts of books you think are in code, or take notes on a series of events you may have observed that are suspicious, unfortunate, or very dull. Keep your commonplace book in a safe place, such as underneath your bed, or at a nearby dairy.”

Lemony Snicket, Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography

“In my Commonplace book, I jot down snippets, quotes, stanzas. They can be words from a novel, from a poem, from a picture book, from the side of a cereal box. Anything I read that causes me to pause and read again- to stop and savor the words or ponder the message- it all belongs in my book.

This is the heart of my book and what really makes it a treasure, I think.”

– Sarah Mackenzie , amongstlovelythings.com

“Their commonplace then became a kind of personal reading/life log, where they kept notes on anything they wished to remember.

What it’s not is a journal or diary. While some people did use their commonplace for both purposes, many kept them separate, and a commonplace tends to refer to a book of information, not daily logs.”

– Devon Henderson, Chirmer Graphics

“But writing original stuff is damn hard, and as if I needed another diversionary tactic I’ve found myself adopting a delicious little habit of collecting quotes from books and films, words, ideas, snippets from overheard conversations, phrases, epigrams and poems that I see around and about the place.”

Maz, Diving For Pearls

My Work Circa Revisited

Back in December I posted about my Levenger Circa notebook I used for work. It’s been a few months, and I thought I’d post an update about what I’m still using.

First of all, for the past couple of months I’ve been in love with my Circa Smooth Sliver Cover. It’s professional looking, sleek and slim, and has pockets and a pen loop (which = awesome). But, like is inevitable for me, every once in awhile I have the urge for more color. So just today switched back to my clear plastic cover and decided I still really liked the colors in my custom coversheet I posted about previously. Look how well it matches my Lamy Al-Star fountain pens!

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I have switched out the discs to my now discontinued 3/4″ Plum Aluminum Discs, preferring the darker purple to the Caribbean purple of my last post.

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The back cover is just an old Levenger Circa beige cover I kept around.

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A big change I’ve made since my last update is to get rid of my tab dividers. As it turns out, I just didn’t use them very often. I still have sections, but now I get to them via page finders.

My first section consists of my monthly calendars. Last time I posted I was using a printable I’d found on Etsy, but since then I’ve released the Pretty Pretty Planner in letter size and am in love with it.

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I’m using these adhesive Girl of All Work tabs for each month – they complement my Pretty Pretty Planner colors really well.

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After my monthly pages are the weekly “Business Week – M-F” letter-size pages, which works really well for my work needs, where I need to track project time by the hour. I use a Circa page finder to mark my current week, and then as every week passes, just move the page around to the other side of the page finder, rather than move the page finder each time.

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After the weekly pages I keep a year-on-two-pages calendar I developed (also available for download under the DIY Templates page).

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Instead of a tab divider, I move on to my blank pages I use for my daily work notes/brain dump/project log. I use a Levenger Circa Top Tab page finder with post-it sticky notes as my page finder for this section (I explain how I made it here).

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I just date each day’s new notes on both sides of the page chronologically, moving the page around my page finder each day as it fills up. By using page finders, I really don’t miss the tab dividers at all. Anything I want to punch and keep as reference I just put in the very back after my empty refill pages. The pages are the now-discontinued reticle-grid Circa Vivacious refills.

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So that’s my work planner! I really love it, it’s working for me so well now – I’m sure I will eventually go back to my Smooth Sliver Cover, but for now, this gives me the Springtime color I need. It just makes me happy to look at it.