On Finishing a Notebook

As someone who has acquired several notebooks, and used them all to some degree, I have found that I love starting new notebooks. I love turning to the first page, breaking in the spine, assessing the smoothness of the paper, and inspecting the thread or staples. Making the first mark in a notebook is delightful.

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Filling and finishing a notebook, however, is more challenging.

I’m not entirely sure why, but filling a notebook has always been a bigger challenge for me. Maybe it’s a fear of commitment, or just a very short attention span, but I have so many half or partially filled notebooks floating around my apartment dating back from my childhood. Whenever I fill a notebook now, even a smaller one, I feel so satisfied flipping through the pages full of my ink and graphite mess. They are small pieces of my brain, minute manifestations of my soul.

As journaling has become an indispensable part of my daily routine – and an outlet for most of my stationery interests – I have been filling and finishing notebooks more regularly. Due to my newfound ability to fill a notebook, I have also developed a bit of a routine when it comes to finally calling them finished. I leave a few blank pages at the back of the notebook to use for the review process I go through with each finished notebook: summarize, transfer, and express gratitude.

For reference, the journal I use in this post is a Baron Fig Confidant with a yellow Guardian cover.

Summarize

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Upon finishing my notebook, the first thing I do is go back through it immediately (or within a few days, when I have a moment) and just flip through the pages and use a sticky tab for anything that catches my eye. I don’t read my entries or notes in depth, I just skim for the basics.

What was I working on in this notebook? What themes run through my entries and notes? Is there anything that I want to carry over into my next notebook?

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After I finish tabbing my notebook, I flip to one of the blank pages in the back and write a little summary of what is in the notebook. Usually these summaries take on the form of a list – bullet points of the things that I tabbed. Overall, this process takes 10 – 15 minutes.

Transfer

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After taking the time to tab and summarize my notebook, I choose the pages or ideas that I want to carry over into my next notebook. When I use a Field Notes notebook (or other pocket notebook) for my daily planning and note-taking, I might carry over a task list, or notes about a project, or a quote that I really like. The first few pages of my notebooks are notes and ideas from a previous notebook. Sometimes, these notes are carried through to my next notebook, and sometimes they are not.

Express Gratitude

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The very last thing I do before putting my notebook on the shelf is write a short thank you note on the very last page. There is no structure for this note, no prescribed pattern for it. I just write a few lines of gratitude for having a space to play, for the pages and the thoughts and ideas that came up and found a place in that notebook.

This small note is the way that I know the notebook is officially finished, and then I put it on my finished notebook shelf, alongside my other journals and notebooks.

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Planner Setup: Hobonichi, Traveler’s Company, Pocket Notebook

Over the years, I’ve changed my planning system and the analogue tools I use to keep track of my schedule many times, but the basic way I use my analogue system does not change. I am primarily a list-maker, as my day to day schedule does not change very often, so all of my tools are designed to be used to support my way of planning. While imperfect, my planning system is comprised of three main products: a pocket notebook (usually Field Notes, but also Write Notepads), an A6 Hobonichi Techo, and a Traveler’s Notebook by Traveler’s Company.

Traveler’s Notebook by Traveler’s Company

Out of the three main systems I use, this is the one I’ve used the longest. I am partial to the horizontal weekly layout in the regular size, as it has the week on one page and a blank page for notes on the facing page. I love having my week laid out in a simple format that lends itself to list making, and space on the opposite page for a running to-do list. Sometimes I decorate, add quotes, or put stickers on the page, but lately I’ve been keeping my layout simple and easy to reference on the go.

I also have a monthly insert that I use for just future planning, so it sees a lot less use than my weekly inserts.

In the back of this notebook I keep a blank insert for quote collecting, doodles, pen testing, and random notes.

My planner currently lives in my blue Traveler’s Notebook by Traveler’s Company, but there are so many beautiful notebooks out there that you can use! I bought mine here.

Hobonichi Techo

I intended to use the Hobonichi Techo as a memory keeping journal this year, but when I started using it I found that I liked keeping my daily to do lists in it. I reference this book the most by far during the day, and the A6 size is perfect for carrying with me every day. I don’t really decorate in my Hobonichi, but occasionally adding in some lettering or a bit of journaling or notes is enough for me.

I bought my Hobonichi here.

Pocket Notebook

I started keeping a pocket notebook in the back of my Hobonichi Techo in March, and I love just having a small book that I can use for notes and random lists that may not fit anywhere else. As someone who used a Bullet Journal for a very long time, the idea of keeping collections and trackers in my planner was one thing I couldn’t give up, and keeping them in the pocket notebook tucked into the back of my Hobonichi is the best way I’ve found to keep everything I need to reference at any time in one place.

My favorite pocket notebooks are Field Notes and Write Notepads. The one in my pictures is the most recent release from Write Notepads, “Sakura.”

While I may have three elements that make up my planning system, the actual planning part is very simple. I need to have a place for lists – tasks, ideas, and notes – and these three pieces make that possible. Simple, functional, and enjoyable – the perfect recipe for an efficient planning system!

Currently Loving: April

April is here, winter is finally over, and spring is blooming nicely here in Denver (when it’s not snowing). So far, April has been a pretty quiet month as far as events, and to be honest I quite like having time to relax and enjoy my routine for a while. As a result, I have found a few things this month that I really enjoy, and have ended up using on an almost daily basis.

Vagabond Notebook in Ashen by Franklin Christoph, co-designed by Catharine Misook

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I’m a huge fan of the Traveler’s Notebook system, especially the original Traveler’s Company leather covers and their MD paper inserts. I’ve been a lover of these books for years, and used several inserts for journals, class notes, and project books. When one of my favorite pen companies teamed up with one of my favorite people on Instagram, I knew I had to at least give it a try.

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The Vagabond Notebook (VN) is a fairly straightforward “Traveler’s Style” notebook cover with Franklin Christoph signature accents. I switched over my planner and journal into the VN cover as soon as I got it at the end of February and have carried it every day. I use the three pen insert – sometimes carrying it in the front pocket but often I just stick it under the band and go. I love the waxed canvas material, the pocket for my Field Notes book, and the Franklin Christoph blank insert. I’ve used it every day and I don’t see that changing soon.

Blackwing Volume 54 by Blackwing

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This pencil converted me into a Blackwing subscriber, and I am so happy it did. The pink was too good to pass up, the story behind the pencil and the “Exquisite Corpse” method of building the pencil was right up my alley in terms of combining my love and background in art history with my love of pencils and stationery. I mean, it’s PINK. With turquoise printing. And an extra-firm core. Everything I have ever needed in a pencil.

Lock & Key Brass Squire by Baron Fig

I saw the posts on Instagram of this beautiful dark green notebook and minimalist brass pen and was sold, and I am so glad I bought this set from Baron Fig. Unfortunately the brass Squire is sold out (forever), but the Confidant is still available.

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The rollerball refill that comes in the pen is really smooth and dark, the size is perfect for my hand, and the simple silhouette of this pen makes it a top choice for me to use for pretty much anything – journaling, planning, and writing letters. The brass material makes it a somewhat heavy pen, which I don’t mind. This is my first ever Squire, and I have my second one on the way (in Rose Quartz).

All of these items have continued on into heavy rotation in April, along with some new beauties that I can’t wait to share. What are you using so far in April?

Top Five Tuesday: Pens

Happy Top Five Tuesday! For this edition, I thought I would share my favorite pens (that aren’t fountain pens, as I will share those in another post). Much like my Top Five Pencils, my taste in pens tends to be pretty uniform: pens that are simple, have nice ink, are smooth or easy to use, and are durable.

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Muji Gel Pen – 05 with Black Ink

This pen is my favorite go-to pen. I always have at least one or two with me at all times. I used to buy them in packs when I lived near a Muji, and now that I don’t I always buy a ton whenever I am at a Muji. However, you can also order them on Amazon. If I had to choose one pen to use for the rest of my life, it would be this one.

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Pilot G2 – Purple

I describe myself as a prolific purple pen user, and the purple pen in question is this Pilot G2. The G2 is a pretty iconic pen, and one that is fairly ubiquitous. It comes in many colors and different tip sizes, but I am partial to this purple. I like this color because it’s more of a magenta-y purple, as opposed to a deep bluish purple that I see in a lot of pens. When I feel like using a colorful pen, I reach for this one.

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Pilot Precise V5

This is the smoothest roller ball pen I have ever used, and I love the needle tip. I use it for writing notes at work, journaling, doodling, drawing, and hand-lettering. The ink is really nice and dark, and it is so smooth. You can buy them pretty much anywhere – I tend to buy boxes of them from any office supply store.

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Tous les Jours Ballpoint Pen

Some situations just call for a ballpoint pen, and when those situations arise I reach for my Tous les Jours ballpoint. It’s slim, so it doesn’t take up much room in my pen case, the needle tip is smooth despite being so thin, and the french writing is just a really cute added bonus. These are more rare than the other pens on this list, but they do come in a variety of colors. Plus they kind of look like pencils, which is fun.

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Sakura Pigma Micron 03

I knew I needed to have a fineliner pen on this list, because they are by far my most used pen. The 03 tip size is the perfect width for me, as the 01 tends to break under my heavy hand, and the 05 looks too thick for me. I chose the Sakura Pigma Micron pen because it’s widely available – you can find them at art supply stores and hobby stores as well as online – the ink is waterproof, fade proof, and the ink is archival. The black ink is one of the most saturated I’ve used, and I enjoy using this pen for writing, drawing, and completing my #dailydoodlesquares that I share on Instagram.

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There are other pens that I would put on this list, like a Bic Crystal ballpoint pen (which I love to use for drawing!), or Tombow Fudenosuke brush pens, but for every day use these Top Five cover all my needs. What would be on your Top Five Pens list?

International Pencil Day!

Happy International Pencil Day!

As I’m sure many of my fellow stationery aficionados can attest, stationery related holidays may be silly and made up, but they are a fun way to use your favorite products and to spread a little love for stationery and nerd out with other people who “get it.”

I’m celebrating International Pencil Day by re-reading my favorite pencil magazine Plumbago, a print companion to the awesome Erasable Podcast. And if you look on page 40, you might even see a familiar name…

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You can still purchase the latest issue here!

I’ve been using pencils all week, so I thought I’d share the pencils that I had in my pencil pouch this morning.

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Quite a few from my Top 5 Pencils list appear here… with clear evidence of my favoritism. The pencils here from top to bottom: Blackwing 602, Craft Design Technology HB, Caran d’Ache Swiss Wood (I got this color in a set from a gift, but I usually use the darker one), Blackwing 16.2, Camel HB, Papier Tigre, and the most recent addition Blackwing 54.

How are you celebrating International Pencil Days? What graphite goodies do you have in your pencil case?

And just for fun… my favorite pencil related quote from my favorite movie of all time.

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Happy pencil-ing!

Top Five Tuesday: Pencils

Happy Tuesday! Since Friday this week is International Pencil Day, I thought I would start off my “Top Five Tuesday” series with one of my most recent stationery obsessions: The pencil. As you can see, my taste in pencils is pretty simple: I like aesthetically pleasing pencils, firm cores, and high quality pencils. All of these pencils are available at my favorite pencil retailer CW Pencil Enterprise, but I always recommend checking out your local art supply or stationery shop.

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My favorites are listed in no particular order, they are just the pencils that I find I enjoy the most and I reach for time and time again, especially when I’m not sure which one to use.

Blackwing 602

This pencil is probably the most iconic pencil on this list, due to its unique ferrule and as the pencil of choice for many prominent writers and artists. I personally love the core of this pencil – it’s firm enough that I don’t need to sharpen it if I write for long periods of time.

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MD Paper Products 

This pencil is a little softer than what I usually go for, and I love using it on paper that’s toothier and produces a little more feedback and texture. Plus the off white color and minimal printing just makes it so lovely to look at and use.

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Viking Element 1

I originally bought this pencil because it was made by Viking, and I find Vikings (the historical group of people) fascinating, and a matte black HB pencil seemed like a pretty basic pencil that would be great for work or using in my planner. I was definitely not wrong.

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Craft Design Technology HB

I bought a three pack of these pencils a couple years ago in Japan, before I even used pencils for fun. There was something so appealing about these pencils – the color, the eraser without a ferrule, the simplicity – that I bought them and used them all up. They have become a go to for me for sketching or for writing, and I always have at least one in my pencil case.

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Caran D’Ache Swiss Wood HB

This pencil is the most expensive of all the pencils on this list, but I find that it writes so smoothly, sharpens so nicely, and it an overall pleasure to use. The diameter is a little larger than most pencils, but not quite as large as a jumbo pencil, so it feels substantial to use without being a remarkable difference from other pencils.

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There it is! My first Top Five Tuesday, all about pencils. Happy pencil sharpening! What are your favorite pencils to use?

Letter Writing Supplies

For those of us who love stationery and writing, challenges and holidays related to our passions are especially exciting. A day to celebrate fountain pens, pencils, or just handwriting in general? Sign me up!

For the letter writers among us, February is a special month called InCoWriMo (International Correspondence Writing Month, an obvious nod to November’s NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month). The goal of InCoWriMo is to write a letter, note, postcard, etc. and deliver it (or mail it) every day for the month of February. That means 28 letters, notes, or cards. The InCoWriMo website states, “a handwritten letter every day.” This was my second year participating in InCoWriMo and I wrote 28 letters and notes. I wrote over 30 letters last year while I was living in France.

If you missed out on the wonder that is InCoWriMo, you will be happy to know that April is also considered a National Letter Writing month! The Letter Writers Alliance wrote about April letter writing month back in 2014, but the point still holds true: Writing letters is something you can do at any time and with any supplies!

Of course, to write a letter you need a recipient. The best recipients are the people you know and love, like a family member, dear friend, or a co-worker. It can be just as simple as an encouraging note left on a desk, or sending a long letter to someone in need. If you’d like to participate but need a place to start finding recipients, the Goulet Pens Blog has a wonderful list and ideas for people to write letters to.

For this year, these are my letter writing essentials:

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  • A pad of letter paper. My choice for this round has been this Life Airmail pad of paper from Jet Pens, which is slightly translucent and holds fountain pen ink really well.
  • Envelopes, both handmade and bought. Here is a really excellent tutorial on how to make your own envelopes: DIY Scrapbook Paper Envelopes
  • Postcards and notes for writing shorter letters.
  • A pen or pencil. I love using fountain pens in my daily life, and especially for writing letters. You can find a Lamy Safari from any number of retailers, but I got mine from Goulet Pens.
  • Washi tape to decorate your envelopes or letter paper (if you so choose).
  • Tea. I am a firm believer that a letter reading and writing session should always be accompanied by a good cup of tea, so I send a bag with pretty much all my letters. This Numi tea was sent to me by one of my penpals.
  • Stamps, for sending letters through the mail. I’m obsessed with these stamps (available on the USPS website or at your local post office) designed by Anna Rifle Bond of the Rifle Paper Co. If you are sending letters from the USA to another country, you will need to either use multiple stamps or purchase International Forever stamps. To see current US postage rates, click here.

I would love to know what supplies you like to use in your own letter writing journeys! Show me in the comments or on social media. Happy letter writing!