Tag Archives: Midori Traveler’s Notebook

Peerless Watercolors in the Midori Traveler’s Notebook

Not too long ago a friend gifted me with a sampler set of six Peerless Watercolors. What are they? Forget about tube or pan watercolor paints – Peerless Watercolors are these awesome PAPER-BASED paints that when activated with water perform like any other watercolors.

Here is the 6-color sampler set my friend gave me:

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Peerless Watercolors are available online from Amazon and other retailers. I was lucky enough to find them in person this weekend when I was visiting a local store, Two Hands Paperie in Boulder Colorado. I found the Peerless Watercolor Papers Bonus Pack (Small), a set of 40 different 2×2″ square watercolor papers.

The bonus pack was arranged in order, as was described on the packaging – important because the individual color swatches aren’t labeled. Once I got it home, I was so excited to show them off and test them I got them all mixed up, and couldn’t put them in that same order again.

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They’re really fun, vivid bright watercolors. And so travel-friendly and portable! So I have this laminated “dashboard” for my fauxdori / midori traveler’s notebook planner. I bought it from ToDie4Planning on Etsy. Dashboards are used to hold sticky notes, washi tape, images, basically a more solid surface for whatever you want to use them for. I picked this one because it’s a glittery seafoam green color called “mermaid” on the outside (just plain white on the inside) – a perfect match for my planner cover.

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Problem is, I really didn’t use it. Like, at all. It was basically pretty but pointless, sitting there in my planner. So I was posting pics of my new Peerless Watercolors this weekend to Instagram, and in looking at the hashtag noticed a couple of people had cut up the sheets into little pieces and made traveling palettes for their planners. And I thought, AHA!! That’s a perfect use for this dashboard – it’s a sturdy plastic base for these paints.

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I assembled some supplies. The watercolors, the dashboard, a composite wooden board I use to clip drawing paper to, a waterbrush, glue, scissors.

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First, I cut a sheet of watercolor paper into two pieces the same size as each half of the dashboard. This was to be my surface, because not only did I want to glue the Peerless pieces to them, I also wanted to dab a swatch of paint next to each one. And the laminated surface of the dashboard as is wouldn’t work for that at all. I rounded the corners of the outside edges, and glued them to the inside of the dashboard.

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It’s a little lumpy looking now, but that won’t be noticeable by the time I’m done.

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So then I had to decide what size pieces of watercolor to arrange in my palette. I had 40 colors total in the Bonus Pack, so knew I needed 20 per side, and needed a decent spot next to each to dab the actual color with the waterbrush. I cut a 1/2″ strip off each square, and then cut that into a 1″ piece – so each piece ended up being 1/2″ x 1″.

I was going to start numbering each mini piece to the larger square, hence the white numbers in this pic, but then figured eh, screw it. They were already hopelessly mixed up anyways!

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Arranging the colors. The thought was two columns of 10 colors per side. Problem was, all the handling of these pieces gets your fingers mega messy! And then the white watercolor paper I was going to glue to started to get all messy too. I had to move all the pieces off of my base and get them in the order I wanted and erase all the marks they left on my paper.

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So then I started gluing one by one, struggling to remember to glue the pretty painted side down, so that the actual transparent watercolor side was available for me to use.

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Problem is, the glue kinda seeped out over the edges of each piece as I glued it – and I soon learned that if I wiped it off, it either got glue all over the top, which I didn’t want, or would get color over the white spaces. Take a look at these close-ups.

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The next step was to take my waterbrush and make a sample of each color next to each Peerless Watercolor piece.

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I’m going to take some onion skin/Tomoe River Paper and cut a piece to fit over the watercolor pieces so they don’t rub against each other. Hopefully the glue sticks!! So far they haven’t popped off yet. I slid the old dashboard / new watercolor palette through an elastic in my fauxdori cover – my plan is to leave it as a standalone insert in the planner, and not piggyback it around any other refill – I want to see both sides of the paints in one glance. Here it is in my planner.

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I had extra pieces of Peerless Watercolors left over, 1/2″ x 1″ because of those strips from each square cut in half. So I thought I’d make another portable palette to use with my various sketchbooks. But I didn’t have any extra laminated “dashboards” left over to use as my base.

I did have some extra plastic cutting mats thought, the result of my plastic Circa planner cover experiments. Most of my sketchbooks are 8.5″ x 5.5″, so I cut a sheet into a 8.25″ x 5.25″ piece, rounded the edges, and cut a piece of watercolor paper to glue to it, following the same process as above. Then glued down the pieces and made swatches.

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Problem is, the watercolor paper top wouldn’t stick to the plastic cutting board base no matter how much glue I used! It’s already popped off. I have glue dots holding it on for the time being, but don’t think those will last very long – that’s what experimenting is for though! I’ll just slide this sheet into my other sketchbooks when I’m not using the planner palette.

Meanwhile, some other links on Peerless Watercolors:

Midori Notebook Accessory Review – #008 Zipper Case

My four Midori Traveler’s Notebook refill reviews so far are:

With these refills, as my fauxdori has no pockets anywhere, I also ordered a zipper case, available from Goulet Pens and JetPens. From the JetPens description: “One side is a pouch with a slide zipper, while the other side has two large flat pockets, one inside and one outside for you to store small items, such as tickets and cards for easy organization and access.”

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Unwrapped!

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Fully open – it is designed to wrap around an existing notebook.

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That’s it! Pretty self-explanatory – I don’t even have much to put in it yet, I think it will just hold stamps so far. But I’m sure it will come in handy as I customize my fauxdori further.

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.

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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