Tag Archives: featured

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.


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.


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.


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.


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


The inside is the same color in unfinished leather.


Close up of the inside of the cover.


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


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.


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


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.


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!


New Pen!! The Edison Pen Co ‘Mina’, aka Unicorn Barf

I was lucky enough to visit the 2015 DC Pen Show this year. Billed as “the largest pen event in the world’, attending the show was an amazing and unforgettable experience for a still-new pen enthusiast like me. I got to meet the great people behind the names that I buy from all the time – Brian and Rachel Goulet from GouletPens, Brian and Lisa Anderson from Anderson Pens, Brad and Jeff from NockCo …. and SOOOO MANY great friends from the pen community online.

Just imagine walking through a room FULL of tables of pens, paper, ink, and other goodies (click to enlarge!)

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So we are wandering by all the tables, having resolved – learning from newbie mistakes made last year at the Colorado Pen Show – not to jump on the first pen we fall in love with, but to make the circuit and see everything that is available. Perfectly logical and reasonable, right? I’d even spotted this TARDISy blue beauty made by Shawn Newton, and managed to drag myself away, BUT JUST BARELY.


Newton Pens Beauty

So THEN we come to the Edison Pens table. Just like Newton Pens, Scriptorium Pens, Ken Cavers, or the Carolina Pen Company (to name a few of the big names), Edison Pens makes custom fountain pens. I’d not had a custom handmade pen on my pen show wish list, as they usually tend to be at a higher price point. But we were walking by the Edison table full of gorgeously colorful pens like these:





We started talking to Brian and Andrea Gray from Edison Pens, two of the nicest people I’d met at the entire show, and SO accommodating and informative about their pens and available options, discussing the show and our impressions so far. When I saw IT. A clipless streamlined beauty in a turquoise and pink swirl pattern called “Hawaiian Swirl”. And it was on the side of the pen display I could afford haha – the prices got higher as you went from left to right on the display.

I saw this pen and instantly thought of the Nock Co Brasstown case I’d just bought a few moments earlier in the pink/sky blue colorway. An Instagram user (@dirgesinthedark) had coined the term “unicorn barf” when referring to this colorway because it is so cotton candy awesome. And when I saw the pen in question, I turned to my husband and was all, “oh look, it’s the unicorn barf pen!” Which made Brian Gray laugh and go, “I’ve not heard it called that before!” and post a photo on Instagram.


(It was so funny to hear people recognize and call it the Unicorn Barf pen when I talked about it later!) Brian proceeded to tell us that Andrea had picked out the Hawaiian Swirl pattern as a trial run, and they weren’t sure how popular it would be so only made three pens out of the material to bring to the DC Pen Show. As soon as I held the pen that had caught my eye, the “Mina” model, I was hooked and had to have it. So here she is, my first ever custom pen in all her “unicorn barfy” glory! (I didn’t even know it was the Mina until later when people started asking what it was, and I was all, “I dunno”. I swear it’s the least informed I’ve ever been about anything pen-related I’ve bought so far. It was all instinct, giving into the ZOMG MUST BUY NOW impulse. Some nice IG friends were able to answer the questions I couldn’t haha).

Shown here with the other NockCo cases I’d brought to the show with me (in the same colorway of course):



I was seriously tempted by my first gold nib too, and would have walked away with one had they not been two-toned, silver with gold. Which ….. NO. This pen was almost sculptural, gold just wouldn’t work. The Grays generously offered to mail me an all-silver gold nib, and send the pen home with a steel nib temporarily. But as soon as I wrote with the 1.1 steel nib, I was hooked. It was so buttery smooth! And the Edison pen nibs are replaceable should I want to change it out for something later.

I’d bought a bottle of J. Herbin Larmes de Cassis earlier at the show, and it is a PERFECT fit for this pen. Who are we kidding, I had it inked up before even leaving the show for the day.


I later learned that Edison Pens does have an agreement with Richard Binder through Indy-Pen-Dance to add flex capability to gold nibs. Which would have been awesome! I wish I’d known at the time I was there at the table, maybe they’d have had one to play with. But as I later learned through emails with Brian Gray, the flex gold nibs are in the #6 nib size only, and the Mina pen I’d chosen used a #5 nib. As we joked, all the more reason to get a future pen from him now!!

But seriously, this ink is a perfect match for this pen.


First impressions. There is nothing to keep this pen from rolling off your desk! The cap is a screw cap, which … I personally prefer magnet caps for most everything, they are so much easier to use one handed! But sometimes you make allowances for special pens haha.

Pen posing while at breakfast. Here you can get a good idea of the Edison Mina‘s shape, tapering out at the ends and narrowing in the middle. This is the standard length Mina – there is also an extended version available.


Length-wise it’s just about as long as a Lamy Safari.


Do you see the sparklies in this material?? The quality and craftsmanship is really evident as you hold this pen. It’s lightweight and well-balanced – I don’t miss being able to post the cap. Okay, well maybe a little, but the pen looks so attractive otherwise I’ll make an exception.


Even 3 weeks later, the pen love still hasn’t worn off. I take pics of this pen every chance I get. Weekends at breakfast…


Even on color charts. This pic has a good view of the nib and grip section.


I was also lucky enough to meet and chat with the other two customers who bought pens in the Hawaiian Swirl pattern! Check out their pics of their pen show beauties, which they’ve given me permission to repost here.

@pinkinkfountainpen bought the Edison Pearlette:


@garrily bought the Edison Beaumont:


We’ve joked we may need to come up with a good Unicorn Barf club name now!

But I’ve really been impressed with my first custom fountain pen, and have really been bitten by the bug now. Just gotta save up for my future flex nib pen next!!

NockCo Pen Cases

Get involved in the fountain pen community long enough and you hear about the pen cases sold by Nock Co. Made of brightly-colored fabric and in varying models, these cases are a fun, casual way to hold your favorite pens. Photos are often posted under the hashtag #nockshots.

The first case I bought was the Sassafras – The Five Pen Bi-Fold, in the Sky Blue/Pink colorway. I wanted something that would hold a few pens. I knew the pen case didn’t have any kind of closure, but decided to try it anyways. The outside is a pretty light blue, textured fabric. The quality and craftsmanship is impressive.



Inside is a hot pink smoother fabric.


But while the case was great, and actually stayed closed surprisingly well, I still missed a closure of some kind. So was drawn to the Lookout – Three Pen Holster. Which had a strap to keep the top flap closed. Also in the same colorway. I love it! The only downside is it doesn’t hold as many pens. And whereas with the Sassafras I could fit two pens in each slot generally, the Lookout is narrower, making that impossible.




And I just love the color!



Update – I added the Brasstown Zip Roll-Up case at the DC Pen Show this August. Guess what colorway? It’s amazing, you can fit so many pens in it!! And even MORE when you use the clips to hold them onto the sleeve pockets.



Review: Levenger Circa Sliver Inside Out Notebook

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I love the thin and light style of the Levenger Circa Sliver notebooks. They provide a sleek professional look to your Circa that doesn’t take up valuable disc space or add precious weight and bulk to your notebook. But while I love my Cocoa-colored Sliver cover with pockets, I was jonesing for some brighter colors. So when Levenger came out with the new Sliver Inside Out covers, I had to try one!! I was so impatient I even bought it from Amazon so I could have it in two days (thank you Amazon Prime!!!).

I also needed some new Circa zippered pouches, so jumped on a pack of those too. They arrived without the usual fancy Levenger packaging, just in a sealed plastic envelopes.


First impression? This blue is WAY prettier than I thought it would be in person!


The back cover.


The Inside Out Sliver Notebook is called such because it is intended to be reversible – you can use either the colored side, or the black textured side. As a result, there is no Levenger embossing or other marks that would ordinarily denote one side over the other.

The blue side has a faint texture and pretty robin’s egg blue color – not just blue, a little greenish/turquoise tint to it.



The black side has a more obvious texture pattern – I personally don’t like it as much as the colored side, so won’t be reversing it very often I don’t think.


The Circa Sliver Inside Out Notebook comes with standard black plastic 3/4″ discs and Levenger’s Annotated Ruled refills. Although it doesn’t have pockets, or an elastic band closure, or a pen loop, it does have the same slim and trim style I love. Here it is compared to the Sliver Cover with Pockets version with 1/2″ discs.


Showing that both Sliver covers have the same thickness.



I like this blue color so much now, I might need to snag a purple when it gets discontinued. I really think these new slimline covers are a unique and highly desirable line of notebooks – I really hope they come out in some fun BRIGHT colors (WITH POCKETS and elastic loop Levenger, PLEASE!??) – like orange, or fuschia, or lime green. Something bright and fun to go with the Vivacious tab dividers and file folders. What do you say Levenger?

Review: Levenger SmartPlanner Agenda

A couple of months ago I had the opportunity to review the Levenger True Writer Select fountain pen, which I really enjoyed. Levenger was also generous enough to send me the SmartPlanner agenda system to review as well. So I started testing out the Levenger SmartPlanner letter-size agenda as my work planner, and thought I’d see if it could woo me away from my own Pretty Pretty Planner printables. After a few weeks in steady rotation, here are my impressions.

First of all, I really like the color and design of the SmartPlanner. If you’ve followed Levenger’s products for awhile, you know that before the SmartPlanner came out, their planners and refills were all monochromatic and boring. Case in point – this one. And this one. Annnnnd this one. Also, did I mention, this one? Levenger desperately needed to add some color and style to their planners.

So when I saw the SmartPlanner, I instantly liked the color scheme – soft, muted pastels that meshed perfectly with dividing tabs (also these) and pocket folders that are already staples in the Circa Accessories line.

First impressions, the planner is hefty! I expected that given it is letter-sized, but with the larger 1″ discs and all the weekly refills it’s definitely not purse-sized. But it’s a great size for a planner that stays on the desk all day. You can get a SmartPlanner assembled with discs and cover, or just the refills separately. I was sent the assembled SmartPlanner.

The front and back views are shown here:


Levenger SmartPlanner Agenda – Front Cover


Levenger SmartPlanner Agenda – Back Cover

The monthly tabs are a nice copper orange-brown with a scripted white font for the month names.


Levenger SmartPlanner Agenda – Side View

The normal inside coversheet has space for contact information.


The first couple of pages provide space for personal/reference information, and an introduction to the SmartPlanner system, as well as yearly calendars.



The Monthly Pages

Each monthly tab page has a light orange shaded sheet on the reverse side.



The month-on-two-pages layout is roomy and spacious, with orange shading on the bottom half of each daily box. The 100 gsm paper is a hefty weight, and feels thick and substantial to the touch. Of course I tested it out with all my inked fountain pens and even some Sharpies and brush pens. Because of the shading on the back of these tabs there is minimal showthrough. Only with the heavy broad/thick nibbed pens and Sharpies could you see any signs of what was written on the other side.


Levenger SmartPlanner Agenda – Monthly View

The Weekly Pages

The weekly pages followed each monthly tab set. The left side page has boxes for the days of the week, and the right side page has sections for weekly goals, daily todo’s, and notes. I like the layout in general, although from a data flow perspective would rather have the pages reversed – plan out the weekly goals and todo’s on the first page, and then from there have the daily boxes on the next page. Also, how awesome does my lime green Lamy Safari look with these copper orange colors??


Levenger SmartPlanner Agenda – Weekly View

The paper quality, as with the monthly tabs, is actually pretty decent. I went at it with fountain pens, markers, Sharpies, even a WATERBRUSH (the palm tree sketch). The waterbrush caused some bleedthrough as was expected – the paper wasn’t quite THAT hardy. But the rest of the fountain pen writing didn’t have much showthrough. Here is the reverse side of the left side of the weekly layout above.


And the reverse side of the right side of the weekly layout above. The markers have some spots of bleedthrough, with the worst offender being the Bic Permanent Marker.


The SmartPlanner “App” System

So, here’s the metaphorical fly in the ointment for me. When I introduce the system to others. I can praise the monthly and weekly layout, the colors, the style – but then I always get asked, “But, what are these APP things?” So I have to awkwardly explain that the “Apps” are complementary add-on activity sheets you can get to supplement the SmartPlanner, such as to-do lists, meeting notes, etc.

But honestly, when I first saw the SmartPlanner was released, I was really excited – until I saw the “Apps” – then my reaction was pretty much like this:

Just … REALLY? I’m sorry – I love you guys, but you just can’t name add-ons “apps” – it’s a PAPER PLANNER, that’s not how this works!

That all being said, I got over my issue with the name quickly enough, mostly because the SmartPlanner Apps are just as nicely designed and colorful and coordinated as the main SmartPlanner. Along with the SmartPlanner Levenger also sent me the LTG 7-App Sampler Pack. Each “app” pad has 25 sheets and is made with 100gsm paper.

The “LTG 7-App Pack” is named so because it contains three LIST “apps” (To-Do, Take-With Lists, and Keep & Share Notes), one TASK “app” (Meeting Notes), and three GO “apps” (Travel Tamer, Ideation Station, and Doodler). I myself didn’t have an immediate work use for all of these apps right now, but took lots of pics to show them in their full-size glory.
1. To Do app
From the Levenger website: “Five color blocks give you more manageability—make one long list or five different ones, for daily or recurring tasks. Each color block can be for a different kind of To Do—work, home, fitness, and so on. Or assign different colors to various family or team members. With a column for prioritizing, plus a date and check-off box for marking progress.”


2. Take-With Lists app (perforated)
From the Levenger website: “Vertically perforated sheets mean you can keep separate lists for work and home, or for different projects. Keep these multiple lists in your Master Agenda till you’re ready to perf and take with.”

3. Keep & Share Notes app (semi-perforated)
From the Levenger website: “A delegator’s dream: give the perf’d side of the color block (5 per sheet) to the doer, and keep a record of your directions on the other. Or make it the traffic manager for items you lend, with a note to whom and when on the Keep side and a gentle reminder about returning on the Share side. You can also use the two sides independently, jotting flashes of inspiration on the Keep sheets and making notes to yourself on the Share sheets. (Place them where they’re most likely to jog your memory.) Let this app do the work for your memory, which you can put to better use.


4. Meeting Notes app
From the Levenger website: “This app helps you turn notes into useful references and action points. On the front, use separate sections for concepts, key points and action steps.  On the back, use the ruled white sheet for taking longer notes. A pagination line keeps track of multiple pages on the same topic.”

5. Travel Tamer app
From the Levenger website: “Consolidate info for each trip onto one simple sheet—flights on front; hotels, cars and sights on back. Use completed sheets as reference for repeat trips. They’re also a helpful record for expense

6. Ideation Station app
From the Levenger website: “Find a creative solution to a problem using different words to connect concepts. The Ideation Station app adapts the effective method that Todd Henry, the author of The Accidental Creative, has designed for starting with a challenge and ending up with possible—and often surprising—solutions. You can do all this on one sheet of paper (take some with you on the plane).


7. Doodler app
From the Levenger website: “Soft colors and different shapes (vertical blocks on back) just may help you doodle your way to ingenious new thoughts. Not a doodler? Use as a sketch pad or to jot notes.”



I really enjoyed testing out the Levenger SmartPlanner Agenda – many thanks to Levenger for the opportunity to see if it’d work for my work Circa. I became a fan of the overall look and style of the SmartPlanner – the soft colors, the tabs, everything looks fantastic! And overall the agenda, like everything Levenger, screams high quality. That all being said, since I was testing this planner out for my work Circa, the horizontal weekly layout just wasn’t fitting my needs. In my job, I do a lot of database testing, and keep track of my time on various projects by the hour. So while I don’t have many pre-scheduled appointments, a vertical weekly planner layout serves my needs much better than the horizontal daily boxes of the SmartPlanner. So I’ve passed it on to my husband who is really excited to give it a shot for his work planning needs. I really hope that in the future, Levenger expands its layout to incorporate other formats – I’d love to see a vertical layout in the same SmartPlanner style.

Review: Levenger True Writer Select Fountain Pen

As many of my repeat visitors know, I post about my Levenger stuffs often. Like A LOT a lot. I’ve been a diehard user of the Circa notebook system for 7 years now, so am always trying out new pages and covers and discs. But surprisingly, while I’ve read a bunch about their fountain pens, my only exposure to their pens has been the Levenger L-Tech I bought for my husband a couple of years ago. So when Levenger contacted me and asked if I wanted to review a fountain pen here on my blog, this was pretty much my exact reaction:

Yeah, I was THAT excited.

So of course I said YES! They sent me a True Writer Select fountain pen with a Fine nib, and TWO bottles of ink in Cobalt and Shiraz!!! This was a most-welcome surprise, as I’ve never tried any Levenger ink either. Reviews of the ink colors will come later, but for now, let’s take a look at this gorgeous new pen I have to play with.

The True Writer Select comes in Mediterranean (ocean blue), Stormy Weather (light grey), and Macchiato (coffee brownish). If you want to read some reviews of the Mediterranean colored pen, check out  Pen Habit and Pen Addict for some fabulous close-up pics.

Anyhoo, I was given the choice of colors to review. I normally don’t do brown pens at all, as I’m very much into bright colors. Which is a big reason I haven’t tried True Writers up until now, the colors tend to be very conservative and traditional. But since I am 100% in love with all things coffee (except chocolate covered espresso beans, because GROSS), Macchiato seemed like a slam dunk. How can a pen that looks like this go wrong??

When he saw the pen Levenger was sending me, the husband was all, “Oooh, if you don’t like it I’ll totally take it off your hands” – psh, fat chance of that Mister!

The Packaging:

I was already impressed with the packaging on the L-Tech, but hoooo boy! The True Writer Select has some pretty epic nesting-box awesomeness going on. I felt like I was cracking into a sarcophagus just trying to get to the pen.

First was a white cardboard sleeve:


Next up, a grey box with Levenger printed in silver on the top:


The lid to this box came off to reveal a canvas mesh wrapped second box:


Once you unwrapped the canvas-like material from the inner box, you saw that it is a nice felt-bottomed wooden display box – it has some impressive heft to it. When opened, the rim of the box is trimmed in a light wood that unfortunately didn’t capture well no matter how I tried with my lighting and camera. But let’s be honest – I only had eyes for the pen anyways! It also came with a standard twist-style converter and one standard international-sized (1/5″) ink cartridge.


Which leads us into …..

The Color:

At first glance, I was all, what the heck? This isn’t coffee colored!? But as I turned it around under various lights, I came to realize the Macchiato color is actually very chameleon-like. In some lighting the swirls appear almost yellow-green or grey-brownish. My first thought was it was almost more of a mink/fur-coat color.


Levenger True Writer Select in Macchiato

Levenger True Writer Select in Machiatto

Levenger True Writer Select in Macchiato

In other lights, it appears brown.


Levenger True Writer Select in Macchiato


Levenger True Writer Select in Macchiato

As you can see, the swirls are a very elusive color and difficult to photograph. If you ever had Tiger’s Eye polished rocks as a kid …

The pen is somewhat like those rocks in person, in that you can’t keep from turning it around in your hand to watch the resin swirls change. But it’s definitely not exactly the coffee/caramel brown I was expecting.


Levenger True Writer Select in Macchiato

Looks really brown in this pic!


Levenger True Writer Select in Macchiato

The Size:

At first glance, this pen is HUGE. Both in length and width. But it is surprisingly lightweight, especially in comparison to the hefty L-Tech. Here are some (not-so-super-scientific) measurements and weights:


Fountain Pen Size Comparisons

Pen  –  Length  –  Weight:
Lamy Studio (Royal Red)  –  13.7 cm  –  33g
Monteverde Invincia (Stealth)  – 13.9 cm  – 41g
Levenger L-Tech (Stealth)  – 13.6 cm  – 49g
Rebecca Moss Mystery Pen  – 14 cm  – 47g
Lamy Al-Star (2015 LE Copper Orange)  – 13.7 cm  – 21g
Levenger True Writer Select (Machiatto)  –  15 cm  – 37g
Monteverde Artista (Purple)  – 12.7 cm  – 25g

As mentioned above, the True Writer Select is surprisingly comfortable to hold for such a huge pen. When posted it feels a little unbalanced, too heavy towards the bottom. Here it is shown next to the L-Tech, both pens posted.


Levenger True Writer Select in Macchiato and Levenger L-Tech

The End Thingies:

I can’t tell if the end thingies (yep, that’s my technical term) are black or just dark brown. But the top one is pointed ever so slightly. The clip is unobtrusive and I haven’t had any issues with it. And that’s about all I have to say about any of them.



The Cap Trim:

The pen has a screw-on cap. One side says ‘LEVENGER’ and the other ‘Select’. I like the script font that is used for the Select side, it adds an elegant touch to the pen.



The Nib:

As I mentioned earlier, my only experience with Levenger nibs has been with Medium and Fine nibs on the L-Tech. The Medium nib I thought was butter-smooth but way too wide for my tastes. My husband ended up ordering a Fine nib separately because it was too wide for his tiny writing style as well – SIDEBAR: can I just say I LOVE pens that let you order the nibs separately!? It’s so convenient to have that option, rather than buying a whole new pen.  When he got the new F nib I was impressed with how it wrote, but was still a little put off by the weight of the pen – especially after my lightweight Lamys) –  so didn’t really play with it much. But I’ve also been conflicted about my everyday pen carries lately, as I like fine nibs for writing, but want the broader nibs that really let the ink color shine more too.

In this case, practicality won out and I went with a Fine nib. Levenger sent this pen along with a note stating that they were interested to hear what I thought of the F nib, as it was somewhat different from their other nibs. In appearances it does look pretty different. The True Writer nib is larger, with different pattern etched into the steel, and a round hole missing from the L-Tech nibs.


Levenger L-Tech M, True Writer Select F, and L-Tech F nibs.


Levenger L-Tech M, True Writer Select F, and L-Tech F nibs.

More importantly, I inked it up right away with some of the new Levenger Shiraz ink, and it wrote perfectly right out of the box! Smooth, always starts up, a fine but not needle-fine line. No squeakiness, scratchiness, or other complaints. Here is a comparison to some Lamy pens (which tend to write wider lines than most):


I think the Levenger F nib actually writes a finer line than the Lamy F. The F nib on the True Writer Select also looks a teensy bit finer than the L-Tech, but that could just be a factor of the inks as well.


I REALLY enjoy writing with this nib. It’s just ridiculously smooth.


I’ve been using the Levenger True Writer Select for a few days now and really like this pen. My fingers tend to slide down the grip a little, but I think that’s the nature of the polished metal grip section more than anything – I’ve been using Lamys so long I need to get used to metal again! It is larger than most pens, and this might be slightly off-putting to those with smaller hands, but I’ve surprised with how well I adapted to it. I think I’d have preferred to see a magnetic cap too, but that’s a minor critique.

One complaint I’ve read in other reviews and noticed when using this pen as well: the pen barrel does tend to unscrew itself ever so slightly from the feed with frequent use. I’ll go to uncap the pen, and have to give the barrel a few twists to get it back to where it should be. It’s not a deal-breaker, but something to be aware of. The husband says his L-Tech does that to him fairly often too.

Price wise, with a retail value of $169 this pen is definitely not an entry-level fountain pen – although the accountant in me has to wonder how much of that cost goes into the elaborate packaging. Fancy packaging to me is somewhat of a waste – I can’t bring myself to get rid of it, so put the boxes away in a closet and never use or display them again. But again, that’s the practical side of me coming out. Levenger is playing up the gift-giving side of pens, promoting that the box the pen comes in can be engraved. And as any customer of Levenger knows, their items are priced at a premium and people have come to expect fancy packaging that the company is known for. And this pen is definitely marketed towards someone who already knows fountain pens and perhaps wants to upgrade to a nicer pen or expand their collection. Or who just wants to treat themselves.

(Just add FOUNTAIN PENS to the above meme haha. Also, I may have been binge-watching Parks and Rec this weekend.)

And besides, Levenger regularly has sales and coupons where the pen is available for a good $35 less or more, often with free shipping. And its about on target market-wise with its competitors. I recently got a Visconti Van Gogh Portrait in Blue, and it was of similar construction, materials, and price point. The Levenger steel F nib actually writes better than the steel Visconti F nib, which I thought was very nail like and almost too fine, whereas the Levenger F nib I took immediately to and can’t recommend highly enough.

All in all the True Writer Select is a solid, attractive fountain pen, and I seriously don’t know why I waited so long to get one! Many many thanks to Levenger who provided me this pen to review. My husband SO isn’t getting this pen, that’s for sure!


Levenger True Writer Select in Macchiato

IT’S HERE!!! The 2015 Lamy Al-Star Copper Orange.

And it is GORGEOUS!!! I pre-ordered it from The Writing Desk UK, who I’ve purchased limited edition Lamys from in the past when I was too impatient for them to get released in the US. They have affordable prices and reasonably quick shipping to the US. And I just received this new Precioussss in my mailbox last night!!! Read on for some pics of this luscious pen in it’s full glorious coppery glory!

First of all, the pen came well packaged from The Writing Desk. Surprisingly, the pen came double boxed. Usually, Lamy pens have come to me two ways: 1) in the “slotted” gray cardboard box, with the pen clipped to a cardboard sleeve inside, or (which I’ve seen much less often) 2) in a plastic/vinyl pouch. This time, the pen came in a slim gray box packaged inside the normal gray slotted box, as shown below.


And then the color pops out and embraces your eyeballs! What a beautiful glowing shiny copper color.


The feed is the standard Al-Star smoky feed (compared against the 2009 LE Lamy Safari Orange just for the heck of it):


The nib is the trusty Lamy workhorse Fine, if you’ve used Lamys before you know while EF nibs can be tricky, the F nibs are almost universally good smooth writers.

Along with the new 2015 Copper Orange Al-Star, Lamy also released a new limited edition Copper Orange ink in both bottled and cartridge forms. The Writing Desk didn’t have them available when I pre-ordered my pen, so I’ll just pick it up later when it’s more available here in the U. S. In the meantime, I popped a Lamy Violet cartridge in to test it out. It’s a fun contrast to the orange!


Next, because comparisons are always useful! The new 2015 Al-Star vs the 2014 Lamy Safari Neon Coral and 2009 Orange limited editions. First, the yummy yummy color – just looking at this makes me incredibly happy:


And full-length side by side view:


The caps:


The bottoms:


Conclusions: I adore this new pen. The shiny metal aluminum finish really adds a special warm glow to this copper color that instantly made it a new favorite.

If you’ve used Lamy Al-Star fountain pens before, it’s exactly as you’d expect in terms of performance and reliability. Yes, these Al-Stars are a little more prone to scratches in the aluminum finish as compared to the ultra-durable Safari plastic. But I’m used to that, some scratches from everyday use – at least in my case – are inevitable really. If I was worried I’d put it in a roll up case that protects each pen individually, but that probably won’t happen. My pens are well-loved and well-used.

Regardless, if you’ve been on the fence about this pen, go get it as soon as it comes available – you won’t regret it!! It will be in high demand once discontinued, just like the Orange Safari is now.

Now for more pics, but this time with GLITTER.



Review: Levenger Circa Smooth Sliver Notebook with Pockets

Awhile ago I posted about the Junior-Size Levenger Circa Smooth Sliver notebook I bought from eBay and how much I enjoyed it. I liked it so much in fact, when Levenger had a sale recently I had to grab a letter-size notebook for my work planner. The letter-size version of the Levenger Circa Sliver Cover with Pockets is just as great as its smaller version, and now I have a matching pair! Here are the unboxing pics!
First of all, I was surprised to see that Levenger wasn’t shipping the notebook in their usual boxes with cloth covers anymore. All the other notebooks I’ve bought from them have come packaged that way, but instead, it was shipped in a plastic shrinkwrapped bag. Once unwrapped, I was able to see this luscious Cocoa colored notebook.

The Levenger Circa Sliver Notebook with Pockets in Cocoa
The back cover:

The Levenger Circa Sliver Notebook with Pockets in Cocoa
The most important benefit this notebook cover offers is how incredibly thin and light it is! It takes up virtually no room on the discs compared to other covers..




I was also really impressed to see a new informational sheet on the inside of the notebook – titled “Levenger Tips for Effective Note-taking”. Yes, it’s a lot of tips I’ve heard before, but I still thought it was kind of cool to see the handwriting and tips.


Levenger also includes tip sheets on how to remove covers and pages safely too. The company does a great job at educating its customers on the Circa system and how to use it effectively.


The notebook came with Levenger’s standard annotation ruled refills. While in the past I’ve not been overly impressed with the paper quality of their standard refills, there is no feathering or bleedthrough on these pages that I’ve seen.


The back of my sample page:


All in all, I strongly believe the notebook would be improved with a pen loop, and in a perfect world, an elastic strap closure. But its the closest cover I’ve found yet to the clear plastic covers I love. I can easily fold it over on itself (my major requirement), it doesn’t take any room whatsoever on the discs (my second requirement) and it comes in more than boring black! I was actually really torn between getting the letter size in Cocoa to match the Junior, or the Navy Blue. I literally put each in and out of my shopping cart several times before finally deciding on the Cocoa. It seemed the most business-friendly, would go with most of my aluminum disc colors, and is a nice rich brown. I definitely recommend

Shown here in Letter-size with my “plum” aluminum discs, and in Junior-size with “caribbean” aluminum discs. And my Rebecca Moss fountain pen.


The Levenger Circa Sliver Notebook with Pockets (in Cocoa)

*Edited to add: I do not work for Levenger, just like their products. I do not get items free to review. Everything on my blog I’ve purchased myself, much to my wallet’s despair.*

Backpocket Journals from Curnow Bookbinding

I’ve had a love-hate relationship with Field Notes notebooks for a long time now. Field Notes are those infamous 3.5″ x 5.5″ pocket-sized notebooks in fun editions and colors. But … Field Notes paper is NOTORIOUSLY crappy for fountain pens.

So I’ve been searching for a fountain pen friendly version of Field Notes, the same size, but with paper that doesn’t make me want to throw the notebook across the room. So in my research had heard about the legendary Tomoe River Paper, and wondered if they came in notebooks this size. Somehow I stumbled upon this fantastic review from Modern Stationer, and learned all about Curnow Bookbinding’s ‘Backpocket Journals’. They make “Tomoe River Paper Editions” with the much-acclaimed fountain-pen friendly paper.

To order, you FB message or email them, and then pay via PayPal. My order just arrived tonight, WOOHOO! The package was a simple plastic envelope with the little notebooks, a handwritten note, and a carbon copy of an invoice (the accountant in me had to go OMG HOW CUTE IS THAT!), just a bit.

First Impressions:

I was surprised to see they were a cream color. It didn’t even occur to me that they’d come in a cream, I just assumed white, so I didn’t think to ask. Given the choice, I would have picked white of course. But oh well, I didn’t specify! Lesson learned for my next order. I Facebook messaged Curnow Bookbinding, who were wonderfully nice and helpful. They said they had some white paper to experiment with, and in the future if I wanted to place a custom order with white paper to just let them know ahead of time (to make sure the white paper is in stock) and that’d be easy to switch out the paper at no extra charge. So yay, white paper next time!


Backpocket Journals from Curnow Bookbinding

The notebooks are hand-sewn and not stapled like Field Notes. Look at the cute thread colors!


Backpocket Journals from Curnow Bookbinding

The stitching is glued down in the middle of the notebooks.


Backpocket Journals

Size Comparisons with Field Notes:

The Backpocket Journals at 3.5 x 5.25″ are the same width as the Field Notes notebooks, but about a 1/4″ shorter. Field Notes are 3.5 x 5.5″. It’s not a huge difference, but they do look a little smaller when next to each other.


Backpocket Journals from Curnow Bookbinding vs Field Notes

The view from the top.


Backpocket Journals from Curnow Bookbinding vs Field Notes

The Backpocket Journals look a little skinnier in profile too – but remember how crazy thin Tomoe River Paper is – it’s practically like tracing paper! So it would take up less bulk in a notebook.


Backpocket Journals from Curnow Bookbinding vs Field Notes

The shorter, slender Field Notes alternative my fountain pens LOVE. It definitely feels and looks like a different kind of notebook.


Backpocket Journals from Curnow Bookbinding vs Field Notes

Paper Quality:

The pages only come blank so far, which is perfect for me as I’m not entirely sure what I want to do with them yet. And included is a handy ruled guide that shows up easily when placed underneath the pages to help with the whole ‘writing in a straight line’ thing (which I cannot seem to do to save my life. Seriously). So yay for that! I ordered two 3-packs, and only received the one ruled guide – I’m not sure if its one per order or just an oversight. Another question for later!

I immediately got out my pens and wrote on the first page with the vintage Conway Stewart flex inked with J. Herbin Stormy Grey ink. I definitely had to wait a few seconds to let it dry – the flex nib is so wet, it sat there on the surface for a good minute before drying (in my non-timed estimation, it seemed like a while anyways). So warning! Smearing might be an issue with you lefties or impatient folks. And this flex nib lays down a very wet line too – it dried a lot quicker with my Lamy Fines and Pilot Mediums. But the BEST PART – as with my one other experience with Tomoe River Paper – there is no bleeding, feathering, major showthrough – it handles the ink wonderfully. just what I wanted.


Backpocket Journals from Curnow Bookbinding

Now to add some extra ink tests!


Backpocket Journals from Curnow Bookbinding

And HOLY CANNOLI it shows the gold flakes and sheen AMAZINGLY well. I can’t stop tilting the notebook under the crappy yellow lighting in my kitchen hahaha.


Backpocket Journals from Curnow Bookbinding

All in all, I’m really excited to try these out. I’m not 100% thrilled they’re cream, but I can live with it and it’s certainly no deal-breaker. I highly recommend these notebooks. My next step is to figure out how to insert them into my new Midori-style cover!

Introducing … The Pretty Pretty 2015 Planner

As I become more involved in online planner groups on Facebook and Instagram, I’ve also become more inspired to try and find the perfect weekly planner layout. I was drawn to the whole planner ecosystems around the Erin Condren and Plum Paper planners. I like the weekly layouts, divided into day segments and with otherwise open boxes for people to write their own appts, reminders, etc. And who knew there are whole planner stickers and accessories designed to fit the boxes in these planners? Crazy, right?! But as I browsed through the planner sections of Etsy, I so wanted to try them! But … I like my discbound notebooks – the planners I linked to above are an unconventional size: too big for the traditional ‘Junior’ or 8.5 x 5.5″ sizes, and too small for Letter-sized notebooks. And they are THICK spiral-bound planners! While I’d seen pics from those who have cut off the spiral binding and punched them with Levenger punches, they’d still require some pretty big discs to carry the whole thing, which I don’t like to use as a general rule, 1″ is as big as I will go (and that took awhile!). But after browsing Etsy and comparing alternatives, there didn’t seem to be any substitute planner printables that I could find that had a similar feel.

So I made one.
I call it the Pretty Pretty 2015 Planner. Because it is pretty. Best of all, it’s free for download!
Just go here.


Pretty Pretty Planner 2015


Pretty Pretty Planner 2015