Category Archives: Notebooks

2018 Pen and Stationery Resolutions

They are a little late, but here are my 2018 resolutions. The theme for this year’s resolutions is “Less is used more.” This is even true of the resolutions.

One–End the year with fewer pens than I started with. (Note: I’m counting the pen I ordered last year but haven’t received yet as part of the current total.) (Second Note: Already cancelled a Kickstarter I was considering supporting.)

Two–Continue to stay the hell away from the nightly Kingdom Note pen sales.



One–-End the year with fewer inks.

Two–Change “FOMO” (Fear Of Missing Out) to NOMO (No fear Of Missing Out).



One–No new notebooks this year. (Unless five get used up.)

Two–Scan the old stuff before it molds and moulders.

One–Take pictures of stuff.

Two–Review stuff.




Out with the Techo; In with the Bullet

I bought the Bullet Journal two and a half years ago via Kickstarter but decided I didn’t want it anymore once I got it. Now, after all that time, I’ve decided to use it.

Part of the problem was the size. It was too cumbersome to carry around every day unless I was carrying a bag. However, soon after I decided not to use it, I bought a Hobonichi Cousin that was about the same size and started carrying that to act as a daily log. Then I decided I didn’t want to carry it around and it became a colorful version of a diary.

Last  year I used the pocket sized Hobonichi Techo as a daily planner. I quickly adopted a version of Mike Rhode’s bar system, mostly because it gave me a chance to use lots of colorful inks on the Techo’s terrific Tomoe River paper.

The problem was that I spent a lot more time scheduling activities and making them look pretty than I actually did doing them. By the end of the year I wasn’t carrying the Techo every day, although I did spend time filling in activities for every day. When I was carrying it, I barely referred to it.

In addition, I’ve also slowly embraced online versions of planners as they can be programmed with reminders and can be changed more easily.

Because of this, and because the Leuchtturm1917 paper is pretty good–and because it forces me to use something that’s been sitting on a shelf rather than buy something new–I’ve decided to use the Bullet Journal as my planner/organizer this year.

I like the simple lists and bullet system especially when supplemented with an online calendar that links to all my devices and my main email account.

There is still the problem of the size of the thing, but I’m willing to give that chance. I will also tear off the annoying binder elastic strap thing.

At this point I’ve used it a week and am already rethinking how I want to use it. I kind of miss the daily log, especially recording the weather and what I wore that day, and want to incorporate a version of that in some of the extra space on the page.

I’ve already incorporated a “number of times postponed” system when things that get scheduled one day get moved to another.

Once I settle on a system, I’ll take some pictures and offer a follow up.

Until then I’ve got planning to do. Oh, and a few things to do, too.

More than Enough is Plenty Enough

As is typical of the way I do things, I’m once again buried in empty notebooks.

I’ve been making good progress getting through them, but they still abound whilst more get delivered to my door. It’s fair to say I’ve reached the state of STABLE (Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy).

Because of this, I’ve decided not to renew my Field Notes subscription after I receive my last installment. I’ve enjoyed being a subscriber and getting the occasional surprise bonuses that subscribers get, but I’ve reached the point where a subscription is not worth the money and the lack of storage. (I suspect, that now that I’m not renewing my subscription, Field Notes will now produce its greatest editions ever and give the best freebies ever.)

I used to give away the craft versions that accompanied the first installment of every subscription, but lately I’ve been giving away the “Colors” or limited editions because I know I’ll never use them all.

Anything I like I can usually buy here in Japan. (In fact, I’ve got a monopoly on America the Beautiful editions thanks to my favorite source.) Or, if I’m in a hurry, I can order them directly from Field Notes while supplies last.

Letting the subscription die also frees up a bit of cash to try out a copy or two of other brands.

Granted, that defeats the purpose of winnowing the stash, but I find it harder to acquire new notebooks if I have to pay as I go, rather than paying all at once. Also, because I live in Japan, there’s always a cool notebook with better paper that has to be tried.

This time next year I’ll probably still have too many notebooks, but at least I’ll have pretended to try to do something about them.

PLUS Ca.Crea A4/3 Premium Cloth Notebook–End of Book Review

The Ca.Crea A4/3 from PLUS Corporation is an odd notebook that I like; however, I can’t quite figure out if I ever want to use another one.

Let me start with the negatives:

First, the name is terrible. The first part of the name (Ca.Crea) is pronounced “Kah Kree-uh) and the second part (A4/3) is unpronounceable, although it is often written as A4 x 1/3.

It’s almost as if someone responsible for naming got confused and handed in their daughter’s algebra class notes instead of the slip of paper containing their name recommendations.

Detail of the name on the front cover. If you figure out how to pronounce this, please contact me.

Second, the size is odd. It is 215 mm X 105 mm which makes it one-third the size of a piece of A4 paper and 5 mm longer and 5 mm narrower than a standard refill for a Travelers Notebook. In fact, it fits a Traveler’s cover quite nicely (albeit after some careful page counting.)

However, because I’m not a big fan of the Travelers system, this is not a huge plus for me.

The Ca.Crea A4/3 in a Traveler’s Cover.

The Ca.Crea A4/3 (bottom) in a Travelers Cover.

On the other hand, the 56 pages of cream paper and 5mm dot grid are excellent to write on. They are very fountain pen friendly and they allow for bottled inks to show off their shading without any feathering. Also, the ink writes over the dot grid meaning the dot grid doesn’t break up the ink lines. (This aspect of gridded notebooks is a pet peeve of mine, even though I have to look closely to be annoyed by it.)

The paper is a bit slick and tends to dry much more slowly than I’d like, but it handles almost every ink well. Even Wancher Matcha, the heart breaker (it breaks hearts) didn’t soak through except where I scratched the paper.

I did find the paper to be very unforgiving to italic and stub nibs when I got even slightly off the sweet spot.

Wancher Matcha on one side with the “drying” times.

The back side of the sample. The yellow marks are “it dries eventually” Noodler’s Apache Sunset from the facing page.

The other advantage of the Ca.Crea A4/3 is that the perfect bound and stitched pages will open flat. It’s also possible to fold the “premium cloth” cover and used pages around to make everything easier to hold when you don’t have access to a desk or a friendly shoulder. It will then close naturally without the covers being sprung.

This may be my favorite aspect of the notebook. Although it won’t fit easily in a pocket, it is easy to hold and use.

It comes in several colors with different color inner covers and facing pages. (The insides of mine were light pink.)

Although I like the notebook, and would probably use it regularly if I liked the Travelers system, I’m not sure if I’ll get another one. I do think it’s worth checking out though.


Story Supply Co. Pocket Staple – Edition 407–First End of Book Review

I like the Story Supply Co. Pocket Staple – Edition 407 enough that I’m going to use another copy as soon as I can just so I can abuse it more.

The Edition 407 is named in honor of the 407 backers (this author included) who supported the original Kickstarter campaign. The original notebooks were nice, and still among my favorites, but it’s interesting to see how they’ve refined their production quality.

The notebook looks great. I especially like the 100# linen-finished burgundy cover. Unfortunately, because I kept it in a notebook cover, it remains pristine and hasn’t been given an honest test.

The front cover. It looks new and that isn’t right for a long term review.

Detail of the embossing on the front cover.

Inside, the 70# cougar paper is excellent. It doesn’t feather and is pleasant to write on. Only a couple of inks bled through, and only when I was trying to make them bleed. Even Wancher Matcha, which is usually the heartbreaker, didn’t bleed unless I tried to make it bleed.

Close up of some horrible handwriting on top of some bleed through. The green dots are Wancher Matcha.

My only complaint is a minor one. The insides of the front and back cover have writing and rulers on them. The writing explains the Story Supply Co. mission and offers a place to make a table of contents. The problem is, all the writing is black on burgundy so it’s difficult to read.

I personally would prefer to have the covers blank inside so I can make my own messes.

Once my current food journal is used up, I’m going to jump my planned notebook queue and use another Edition 407. I’m interested in seeing how well it holds up after being carried in a pocket for a couple weeks.

Quad Field Notes Leather Notebook Cover–Even Longer Term Review

After carrying the Old Church Works Quad Field Notes Leather Notebook Cover for over 20 months now, I’ve reached the conclusion that its strength is its weakness.

Although it has aged beautifully–the patina compared to when it was brand new is awesome–the thick leather never softened as much as I’d hoped. Although I open and close the Quad several times a day, it still won’t stay open when I just let it sit and try to transcribe my notes. It’s easier to take the notebooks out and open them.

The Quad cover showing off its excellent patina.

Part of it is my fault as I started using it to hold a full complement of four notebooks knowing that would make it uncomfortably thick. In fact, it’s as thick as keeping a small paperback with leather cover in your pocket. However, it is designed to hold four notebooks so I thought I’d use it as intended.

The Quad with four notebooks is quite thick.

However, I’ll probably be either dropping down to two notebooks, or simply pocket carrying the two I use the most and keeping the Quad in my book bag with the notebooks I don’t use very often. This is not the Quad’s fault, but a problem with me constantly changing my system.

Also, the Quad protects notebooks so well you can’t really test much about the notebooks other than the paper.

The only durability issues I’ve noticed with the Quad are that the elastic band holding the cover closed is starting to fray. At this point it’s only an aesthetic issue, but it is something to watch.

I still like the Quad better than the Midori Passport sized, and will probably start using it again eventually, but I’d still love to see a version with thinner, softer leather.

Four By Too Many

For 20 months or so I’ve been carrying the Quad Field Notes Leather Notebook Cover from Old Church Works and the entire time I’ve had it filled with four notebooks with different uses.

As much as I like it, it’s probably time for a change.

The cover has held up well, despite a couple issues, but that’s fodder for a different post.

The notebooks are a food journal, a random notes book, a 10 ideas book, and a book “Bible” for one of the projects I’ve been working on. (Sort of.)

The main issue is that, over time, I’ve not only stopped using three of the four notebooks, but I also feel I’m not getting a good sense of how durable the different notebooks are in the pocket when they are protected by a thick leather cover.

Because of that, I’ve decided that it’s time to shed at least two notebooks (the 10 ideas and the book Bible), and start pocket carrying the food journal and the random notes notebook.

I’ve done something like this in the past and found I got more use out of the random notes notebook than I am now.

However I use them, it will definitely lighten my everyday carry. But that’s also part of a future review.