Notebook Storage Boxes

Anyone who’s followed this site for a while will have seen quite a few photos of notebooks stored in various ways: piles in cabinets, piles in drawers, wicker baskets, under-bed boxes, plastic sweater boxes, white cardboard banker’s boxes, moving boxes, and lots and lots of shoeboxes.

Of these storage methods, a couple of favorites stick out. When I used clear plastic sweater boxes, I loved how perfectly they fit my usual pocket size notebooks standing on end– I could stick them in upside down so that I could read the dates I used each notebook, which I always write on the bottom edge. But a full box got rather heavy. I also didn’t have enough of those boxes for all my used notebooks, and I’ve never found a place to buy more.

Shoeboxes have been my go-to storage solution otherwise. They are a good size for pocket notebooks. And I tend to buy way too many shoes, so I have a steady supply! But shoeboxes vary– some are better sized than others. And none allow that standing-up storage method– they only accommodate notebooks in stacks or lined up on their sides. (Some people label their notebooks on the spine, which works well in a shoebox, but I don’t like marking the spines.)

All this got me thinking about what the perfect notebook storage box would look like. It would have to be sized to hold a notebook standing up, so at least 5.5″ tall. I’d want it to hold two rows of notebooks side by side, so at least 3.5 x 2″=7″ wide. As for the length, I thought maybe 15-20 notebooks in each row would be good. I figured a notebook weighs about 5 ounces, which would make each box about 12 pounds when full. That seemed a little heavy, so I ended up settling on a box that was 10 inches long, 7.5 inches wide, and 6 inches tall, which would hold around 32-34 notebooks in standard pocket Moleskine-ish size and weigh around 10 pounds.

Having envisioned the perfect notebook box, the problem was buying one. What I had come up with did not seem to exist anywhere as a standard product. But in searching for custom box makers, I found some companies that offered custom size cardboard shoeboxes. These companies usually serve businesses looking for custom-printed boxes for their products, but for plain cardboard boxes without printing, the costs were pretty reasonable even at lower quantities. I knew I’d want at least 10 boxes, and the prices seemed lower than what I’d pay for other storage box options that weren’t even the right size.

I settled on a custom shoe box from Fantastapack. For a total of $98.31 including shipping, I got 10 boxes. $9.83 per box isn’t super-cheap but I’d rather pay that much for something that is perfectly sized for my needs than pay less for something that isn’t right and gets on my nerves. I am really pleased with how they turned out, so my only regret is not ordering a larger quantity, since that would have reduced the per-unit cost.

They are indeed the perfect size, though maybe I should have just ignored my weight concerns and made them slightly bigger to hold 20 notebooks per row. The boxes ship flat, but are easy to fold into shape. They are sturdy and stack nicely, and look much tidier than all my other shoeboxes. I wrote on each box to identify its contents, though it would be nicer to use labels. The one potential problem, I guess, is that these are not archival, acid-free boxes. If I truly needed to preserve my notebooks for posterity, I suppose I could line the boxes with some kind of acid-free protective paper. But since I’m mainly just trying to keep myself organized for another 40-ish years of life expectancy, I’m not too worried.

The ten boxes I ordered were enough to hold all my filled Moleskines and similar journals and sketchbooks, as well as all my pre-adulthood notebooks, with the exception of some larger sized ones. I also have a few of my stash of spares in one of the new boxes. At some point, I will probably order another 15 or so boxes to hold the rest of my collection. I’ll still have some odd sizes that I’ll have to store elsewhere, but most of my collection will fit nicely into this same box design. Say bye-bye to those shoeboxes!

Diane Arbus Notebooks

I usually think of artists who draw and paint as having the most beautiful notebooks and sketchbooks, but photographers keep some intriguing notebooks too: my latest “other people’s notebooks” fascination is with Diane Arbus. I’ve always found her quite interesting, since discovering her photographs when I was in high school, to more recently reading Patricia Bosworth’s biography of her. I also have a newer biography by Arthur Lublow on my to-read pile.

I guess it was after reading the Bosworth book that I decided to see if there were any images of Diane Arbus notebooks online. I was excited when I found this one!

diane arbus notebook screenshot

Unfortunately, I snapped that screenshot over a year ago, and when I went back to look at the link now, the content was no longer available. However, I did find a couple other glimpses of Diane Arbus notebooks online:

The Yale University Press website shows photo of one of her appointment books, as featured in the book Diane Arbus: In the Beginning

diane arbus notebook

The Malba Foundation website also has an image accompanying an article about an exhibit:

diane arbus notebook

The book Diane Arbus Revelations contains excerpts from her notebooks and letters, and apparently some images too. (You can see one of the spreads below, from a listing at the Fraenkel Gallery online shop.)

diane arbus revelations book notebook

Some other images of Diane Arbus notebooks seem to have made their way onto Pinterest, but otherwise I haven’t seen much. I’ll be keeping my eyes out for more– she’s a fascinating figure who had an interesting life story as well as being a brilliant photographer.

How I Use My Nolty Planner

I’ve written various reviews of Nolty planners and notebooks, but I don’t think I’ve gone into too much detail about how I use my Nolty planner. These lovely Japanese diaries have some features that make planning, habit tracking, and list-keeping very convenient for me.

The Nolty Efficiency Notebook has various page layouts. It starts with a full year spread, which I actually don’t use at all! I probably should come up with some way to use this to plot out the whole year or maybe track something that occurs year round… but I haven’t found a need yet.

The next section is the monthly Gantt chart. For each month, you get columns for each day, and several lines below. I use this as a habit tracker. I track things like exercise, how often I’ve called my mother, whether I’ve done something creative that day, and other various health and productivity and social habits. Usually, I just mark a dot to show that I’ve done that thing each day, or maybe a letter or number to show what/how much I did. This photo shows the page with space for the following year’s first few months, but the pages for the current year are two per spread, so each month has 11 lines rather than 7. The first two lines are pre-drawn, but below that, there are dots that help with alignment when I add my own lines in pencil.

how i use my nolty planner

Then there are the weekly spreads. In each daily section on the left, I’ll note appointments, birthdays, sometimes the weather, and track my exercise and diet in detail. On the blank right page, I keep a shopping list and a to-do list. At the bottom of the right page, I might jot other details, like a list of places I’m planning to visit if I’m going into NYC that week. On the tops of the weekly pages, I’ll note week-long plans like a vacation or trip.

nolty efficiency notebook

I don’t use the weekly layout to plan or record any details of job-related meetings unless it’s a major meeting or a full-day business trip– something I know I need to plan my personal life around rather than routine meetings within my regular work schedule. I keep all the details of my work meetings and to-do’s in my work Outlook calendar.

At the end of the weekly pages, the Nolty planner has various plain, lined and squared pages. I use one to note my new year’s resolutions and goals, and another to jot notes about plans for the following year, so I can transfer those notes into my next planner. I use other pages for random notes such as results of an annual medical exam– I used to just keep a health diary in a note on my phone, but I decided it would be good to record things each year on paper too.

The Nolty planner comes with separate booklets that can be tucked in the back cover. One is an address book, and the other is just lined pages. I have been using the address book to keep long-term lists like books I want to read, music I want to check out, movies I want to see, restaurants I want to try, travel ideas, etc. I also keep a page with a few key phone numbers– I can’t remember phone numbers anymore, so I like having a backup in case I lose my phone! I tend to use the same address booklet for 2 years rather than re-copying everything at the beginning of the new year.

nolty address book

The lined booklets tend not to get much use at all. I’ve used a few pages of one for some random notes, and I keep transferring it to my new planner each year because it hasn’t filled up. I have quite a few spare booklets. I do like having these extra booklets, though, as the pages are perforated for easy removal and I have torn out a page to give someone a note once or twice.

On the sample spreads shown in this post (mocked up in simplified form for explanatory purposes and to hide the embarrassment of my actual diet and habits!) you will notice that I’m using a few different colored inks. I love using my various fountain pens in the Nolty diary, as the paper works so well with them. I don’t have any sort of color coding system, though– the ink colors are used totally randomly. Often I’m just using a black gel ink pen, but I do love when I end up with a colorful mix of inks on a page. Sometimes I doodle in the margins a bit, making things a little messier.

I will also note that the handwriting you see here is my typical handwriting for entries in this planner. There’s something about the Nolty layout that makes me want to use my tidy, tiny block capital writing style. I sometimes use it in other notebooks too, mostly when making lists, but when I’m just scribbling notes or writing journal entries, I fall into a much messier semi-cursive scrawl.

That’s basically it– how I use my Nolty planner is pretty straightforward. You may ask, do I really NEED this particular planner format to track what I’m eating and whether I’ve taken a vitamin? No, of course not. There have been times in my life when I’ve used plain notebooks, or just not logged my life in this way at all. It didn’t kill me. But I find it more pleasurable to use this particular planner, and tracking habits with a tool I enjoy actually helps me have good habits! These Nolty planners work really well for my needs, and the quality of their paper and construction makes them a pleasure to use. I’ve definitely gotten into a solid routine with these diaries– it’s hard to imagine using anything else!

The Forbidden Notebook

This book sounds fascinating! It was just reviewed in the New York Times:

Rome, 1950: The diary begins innocently enough, with the name of its owner, Valeria Cossati, written in a neat script.

Valeria is buying cigarettes for her husband when she is entranced by the stacks of gleaming black notebooks at the tobacco shop. She’s not permitted to buy one there on Sundays, she’s told, but the tobacconist gives her one anyway, which she stashes under her coat. She doesn’t yet know there’s a devil hiding in its pages.

This deception begins the Cuban-Italian writer Alba de Céspedes’s novel FORBIDDEN NOTEBOOK (Astra House, 259 pp., $26), first published in 1952. Valeria is married with two adult children; the family is under financial strain, compelling her to work in an office and manage her household without the help of a maid. She has coped with these pressures handsomely, she believes. She is a “transparent” woman, simple, “a person who had no surprises either for myself or for others.”

But from the moment Valeria brings the diary into her home, it changes her. She is terrified by the thought that her family might discover it, especially after they mock her for the mere suggestion she might like to keep a journal. “What would you write, mamma?” her husband, Michele, teases.

You had me at “stacks of gleaming black notebooks at the tobacco shop,” but the review goes on to say that the book will appeal to fans of Elena Ferrante, which I definitely am! I’m looking forward to reading this…

Buy at Amazon or

A Thames Mudlarker’s Notebook

If you’re not familiar with the term “mudlark,” it means someone who digs around in a riverbed at low tide to see what sorts of treasures they might find. I felt like I’d found some treasure when I discovered Johnny Mudlark’s diary!

johnny mudlarker notebook pages

I first saw some of these images on Pinterest, and was led to the website of the Thames Festival Trust.

“Johnny creates extraordinarily detailed and intricate paintings of his finds at actual size, which he accompanies with notes. He has made five notebooks so far, one of which was on display at the Museum of London Docklands Secret Rivers exhibition.”

London’s Thames River has such a long and fascinating history, so it’s no wonder the mudlarkers there find all sorts of interesting things, including artifacts from hundreds of years ago.

johnny mudlark's diary page
Mudlarker’s Diary page by Johnny Mudlark

The exhibition about mudlarking is long over, unfortunately, but it was tied to the publication of a book, which includes illustrations by Johnny Mudlark: A Field Guide to Mudlarking.

See more images of Johnny Mudlark’s work: Thames Festival Trust

My Messy Cooking Notebook

I shared a photo of this notebook on Instagram recently and a lot of people seemed to love it. I realized it’s quite unusual for me to show off a notebook that is this beat-up and battered!

cooking notes notebook

Most of my notebooks are pocket size journals and sketchbooks. I tend to go through them fairly fast, and I’m not that hard on them. They get broken-in but they stay in pretty good shape. I’ve had a few notebooks where the spine tore apart– my first Moleskine softcover, and a Markings/CR Gibson notebook come to mind (photo in this post). But nothing has gotten as abused as this Picadilly notebook that I’ve been using for cooking notes!

recipe notes

The elastic lost its tension when it was relatively new. It didn’t take that long for the spine to break either– I think a better-quality notebook would have survived longer.

cooking notebook

For many years, I’ve tended to tear recipes out of magazines and newspapers, and many of those are stuffed into an A4 size Moleskine Folio Portfolio— the jumbo size version of the Memo Pockets.

moleskine A4 portfolio

But at some point I started looking at more recipes online, and began copying my favorites into the Picadilly notebook. I bought it at a Borders store, almost 15 years ago. If I remember correctly, it was the first Picadilly notebook I purchased– I’d been wanting to try one, but I couldn’t find any pocket-sized ones at first. This larger size is unusual for me but it’s very practical for cooking notes, since it opens flat and stays that way.

For a few pages, I used it for random drawings and doodles. But I decided pretty quickly to devote it to jotting down recipes. It’s lived in a kitchen cabinet for years now, with more and more recipes being written and pasted and tucked into it.

cooking notebook rack of lamb recipe
cooking notebook mixed berry crumble recipe
cooking notebook lemon almond tart recipe

I’ve gotten very behind on stapling or taping all the loose recipes into the pages, so the loose sheets have gotten rather crumpled, in addition to many of them being stained with splashes of whatever I was cooking. It’s only in the last few years that the notebook got so over-stuffed that the front cover started tearing off and had to be reinforced with duct tape.

cooking notebook best dry brined chicken recipe
cooking notebook italian ricotta cheesecake recipe
cooking notebook pumpkin pie recipe

My partner has suggested several times that I start a new notebook or some neater way to capture these recipes, but I’m kind of attached to this messy notebook. I’ve jotted so many notes about tweaks to ingredients and cooking times, and I like seeing all my sloppy scribbles. The only problem is that my partner can’t read them! Her handwriting is much prettier, and consistently neat, as you can see below.

recipe notebook shrimp scampi recipe

We also have a couple of looseleaf notebooks filled with printed-out recipes, and saved recipe cards from when we subscribed to Blue Apron several years ago.

binders full of recipes

At some point I suppose it will make sense to consolidate everything, but even if I re-write all my favorite recipe notes, I think I’ll have to save this notebook. To me, it represents an aspect of self-improvement: for years, cooking was something I avoided because I just didn’t know what I was doing, and I felt very stressed about it. But as I learned more, and felt more comfortable not just feeding myself but cooking for others, the dishes that I mastered became a source of pride for me. Learning to cook is an accomplishment I feel good about, and I’ll always look fondly at how this notebook traces my progress.

Leila Slimani’s Notebook

The Moroccan-French author Leila Slimani was featured in the Wall Street Journal magazine in December, talking about some of her favorite objects. Included are a notebook and pen!

Photography by Felipe Romero Beltrán for WSJ. Magazine

In the front is a notebook. I’ve been writing everything in notebooks since I was 18. We write because we don’t want to forget, and it’s something very physical, like a picture of me but through writing. I see myself evolving through my notebooks. On top is my father’s pen, which my mother gave me when he died. It’s sort of magical because it disappears then comes back. I don’t write a lot with it, I just touch it as a way of talking to him.

–Leila Simani, WSJ Magazine, 12.8.22

The pen looks like a Montblanc to me, and I would guess that the notebook is from Emilio Braga. Slimani has lived in Portugal for the past 15 years, so it would make sense. The notebook has their characteristic binding style, and marbled page edges, though it looks like the pattern in black and white isn’t the usual blotchy composition book pattern, but rather a geometrical design. From looking at Emilio Braga’s website, it seems like they are diversifying their designs. I didn’t see this particular pattern, but it’s possible it was a limited run that is no longer available.

Slimani is the author of several novels, most notably The Perfect Nanny, which I found really creepy and horrifying. I can’t say I recommend it, though she is obviously a brilliant writer. I would like to try one of her other books someday…

Louise Carmen Notebook Review Part 2: Where to Buy

In part 1 of my review of the Louise Carmen notebook, I cover the qualities of the Louise Carmen Pocket Heritage notebook itself. Now I’ll talk about how I managed to obtain it!

When I discovered Louise Carmen notebooks online, I thought they looked great. Their website, and their Instagram, feature some some pretty mouth-watering imagery, including before and after photos of brand-new and broken-in notebooks in lots of beautiful colors. It did not take long before I was itching to hit the “buy” button, except for a few things: the notebooks are expensive, shipping from France is really expensive, and the colors I liked best were sold out. And without seeing these notebooks in person, I couldn’t quite commit to such a big expense.

Since I really didn’t want to spend a ton of money on a notebook from France sight-unseen, I turned to eBay, without much optimism. But I was amazed to see several listings for Louise Carmen notebooks at bizarrely low prices, apparently due to a super-clearance of some overstock. The colors and leather style were the antithesis of all my personal notebook preferences, but for a total price of about $13 for 2 notebooks, I wasn’t going to quibble about them being metallic fuschia and gold! These were sold at Bloomingdale’s at some point. The metallic leather is still available an option for the lower-priced “Pocket Colors” notebooks on the Louise Carmen website. I bought a lot of two notebooks, just to test-drive the size, shape, and quality before committing to ordering a color I really wanted from France.

Louise Carmen pocket colors notebooks
Louise Carmen pocket Colors notebooks from eBay
Louise Carmen Heritage and Colors Notebooks thickness

The quality of the leather in these metallic “Colors” notebooks was a bit lighter and floppier than I’d expected, but I liked them enough and figured the more expensive Heritage leather would be nicer. I was ready to place an order, but I kept waiting, hoping that the out of stock colors would be available again. In the meantime, I went into Manhattan one day and visited Goods for the Study. I couldn’t believe it when I glanced into a glass display case and saw several Louise Carmen notebooks– the Louise Carmen website makes no mention of any other stockists. Goods for the Study only had the pocket notebooks in natural and black, from the pricier “Pocket Heritage” collection. The natural leather is smooth and much stiffer than the metallic leather. The black notebook at Goods for the Study was a more supple and soft leather, also very nice. (Lots of other gorgeous colors are available on the Louise Carmen website, but it’s hard to tell from the photos which texture each color leather has.) I was really torn about which one to buy, but decided to go with something different (i.e. non-black) for a change. I still kind of want another color in the Heritage leather, as I’m feeling impatient about the natural leather developing a nice patina… but it’s already starting to soften and darken and I’m sure the end result will be rewarding.

Goods for the Study charges $129.95 for the Louise Carmen pocket Heritage notebook cover. I was charged an additional $7.95 for the notebook insert– not sure if that was a mistake, but if I’d realized it wasn’t included, I wouldn’t have bought it. (They stock extra refills in pocket and large sizes.) But the price for the cover is a relative bargain– if I’d ordered it from the Louise Carmen website, the price would have been 129 euros (something like $139, at the moment) plus about $50 for shipping. Ordering direct from Louise Carmen means you get one insert notebook in your choice of plain or dotted pages included for free, plus a little cloth bag to keep your notebook in, plus free gift packaging, if you want it. You can also get a custom color elastic (5 euro extra) and custom stamping of your name or initials (13 euro extra). Larger sizes are also available. They also sell accessories such as extra elastics and a leather care kit.

If you are in the US and you want a Louise Carmen notebook, you could check eBay to see if there’s any bargains to be had. But otherwise, I would try Goods for the Study. They don’t currently do online sales, though their website says online shopping is coming in Spring 2023– if you can’t wait til then, you could call their main store at (212) 674-4400 to place an order.

If you want to order from the Louise Carmen shop in France, you might consider a proxy shipping service, though I’m not sure if that would save you much money. Ordering more than one notebook at a time makes the per-notebook shipping costs more reasonable, so joining forces with a friend could be worthwhile. Best method of all? Book a trip to Paris! I’d love to go to the store in person to see and touch and smell these luscious leather notebooks first hand. I just wish I had known about Louise Carmen notebooks the last time I was there!

Louise Carmen Notebook Review Part 1

I’m always a sucker for a nice leather notebook— there is something so seductive about the patina on well-broken in leather, and the way it starts to form to the shape of its contents. It’s what made me love the Filofax notebooks I’ve used in the past, and it’s what made me buy a passport size Travelers Notebook. I ended up not enjoying using the TN enough to ever break it in the way I’d seen other people do. But now I’ve found the Louise Carmen pocket notebook, and this time I think I’m in it for the long haul.

I first came across the Louise Carmen notebook brand on Instagram. I checked out a few photos, thought they looked nice, sent myself an email with a link to follow up on later, and then forgot all about it. Months later, I rediscovered the email and for some reason, this time I fell in lust. Their before/after shots of broken-in notebooks were especially to blame!

Louise Carmen website
Louise Carmen Instagram
Louise Carmen Instagram

Louise Carmen is based in Paris, with a retail shop in the 2nd arrondissement. Their leather notebook covers, which come in various colors and sizes, are made in France, and from what I could see at first, sold only in France and via their website. But as it turned out, I was able to buy a Louise Carmen notebook elsewhere. I’ll tell you more about where to buy one in Part 2 of this review, but in the meantime let’s check out the notebook itself!

louise carmen pocket heritage notebook
Louise Carmen notebook, a few days old (but already with a slight stain)

Louise Carmen notebooks are designed in a style quite similar to Travelers Notebooks, but with some important differences. Most importantly for me, their pocket notebooks are sized to hold a standard 3.5 x 5.5″ refill. Louise Carmen makes their own refills in plain and dot-grid formats, but you can use Field Notes, Moleskine Cahiers or any other slim notebook in this size, and depending on what else you have in there, it will probably hold two refills. The Louise Carmen website also notes that Moleskine’s soft cover 12-month weekly planners will fit inside.

louise carmen leather notebook broken in
Louise Carmen notebook after about 3 1/2 months of use

I know there are other “fauxdori” travelers notebooks out there that are sized to hold Field Notes/Cahier sized inserts, but from what I’ve seen, the covers always have a lot of overhang. What I love about the Louise Carmen design is that the cover size is pretty close to the same height as the notebook.

The other clever thing they’ve done is to design the notebook with a wrap-around flap: this allows the notebook to expand in thickness, and a little bit in width, all while still maintaining its shape as a tidy, enclosed bundle. The flap is meant to be tucked under the front cover, which gives the closed notebook a cleaner look than leaving the flap on the top. But you could put the flap on the outside if you prefer– it looks fine that way too.

louise carmen notebook compared to moleskine
Louise Carmen Pocket Heritage notebook shown with pocket Moleskine
louise carmen vs moleskine
In my opinion, the grommets for the elastic should be positioned slightly higher, so they’re more in the center of the spine, but they work fine as is.

The natural leather I chose is very thick and sturdy with a smooth surface. Over time, it should darken and soften and develop that lovely patina. I’ve been using mine for a few months and you can already see the exterior breaking in, with a noticeable difference on the parts of the leather that aren’t exposed and haven’t darkened and scuffed as much. I tried to get shots of the notebook “before” and “after” but couldn’t quite get matching lighting for a true comparison– but I do think the change is noticeable!

In addition to the wonderful color and feel, the leather smells great. This natural leather is one of the choices for the Louise Carmen Pocket Heritage notebook line, which features vegetable tanned leather in gorgeous colors. There is also a less expensive “Colors” line that has a lighter weight leather in different textures, including metallic colors. (From what I’ve seen of the other Heritage colors, they don’t necessarily have the exact same texture and smell as the natural leather.)

An elastic closure is anchored on the back cover, just like a Travelers Notebook. I find this closure more awkward than the vertical elastic on Moleskine-style notebooks, but it does keep things secure inside.

louise carmen notebook
The left edge of the flap shows the lighter color where the leather hasn’t gotten as much wear.

When you open the notebook, there is a tuck pocket in the front, with the stamped Louise Carmen logo and a cute ribbon loop in the colors of the French flag. There are two elastics for holding notebooks, which are tidily threaded through grommets in the spine. Inside the back cover, there are pockets for two credit cards, with a space in between that can hold a mini pen. There is a larger pocket behind.

louise carmen leather refillable notebook

All these pockets got me thinking about how I might use the Louise Carmen notebook as a wallet. I tried that with my passport size Travelers Notebook, using some accessories to hold cards and cash and even coins in a zippered pocket. But I found it awkward and fat and heavy, somehow. And because the size wasn’t really my preferred proportions in the first place, I didn’t love it enough to want to make it work. With the Louise Carmen, the love is there!

My life in the past few years has changed the way I even use a wallet. I rarely use cash anymore. Most of the time, I could probably get away with only carrying my drivers license and a credit card. But there are also health insurance cards and a vaccine card I sometimes need, an ATM card, and a few other odds and ends. They were too much to just shove in the tuck pocket, so I found a plastic insert that holds 12 cards and fits perfectly. (Available here, or search for “hipster wallet card holder insert” and get one that is top-opening. It will have an extra plastic flap that is what holds it into other types of wallets but you can cut that off. It would work fine with a passport size TN too.) I currently have 10 cards in the holder, plus my COVID vaccination card. There are two additional cards in the back cover slots, and usually some business cards and receipts in the front cover pocket.

louise carmen notebook thickness
Louise Carmen notebook in use as a wallet vs. thickness of a pocket Moleskine.
louise carmen notebook used as wallet
The plastic card holder has 6 pages of two card pockets each. I love that the cards are all visible on both sides, with no overlap.

For cash, I started off keeping a few bills in the cardstock pocket I’d bought for my Travelers Notebook. I also threw in a Chic Sparrow plastic folder– it wasn’t really necessary but was a good place to stash the vaccination card and could also hold stamps or photos. And finally, I found that I could just put my coins in the large back pocket. If I had too much change it might get awkward, but the small amount I’m usually carrying is fine, not too lumpy. I opted not to use my old Travelers Notebook zippered pocket as I didn’t like the bump of the zipper itself. After a month or two, I decided to ditch the plastic and cardstock folders– for a while I just tucked my cash into the elastic, but I recently decided to bring back the cardstock folder, as it was a little less cumbersome. I’m still a little on the fence about whether to just carry a separate small coin purse for cash and change, but for the moment, I’m sticking with keeping them in the Louise Carmen– I use cash so rarely, it hardly seems to matter.

louise carmen travelers notebook
Cash tucked in the elastic
louise carmen notebook wallet
Cash in cardstock folder that I bought for a passport size Travelers Notebook

With all these items turning my Louise Carmen notebook into a wallet, you’ll notice that I left out the actual notebook! I’m always using so many other notebooks, I really don’t need one in my wallet, but I suppose I could rearrange things a bit to add a notebook if needed. If I ever manage to travel internationally again, I will also be able to insert my passport. This all makes a bulkier and larger wallet than I’ve used in decades, but so far, I don’t mind. I love the shape and feel of it, and it’s great being able to carry everything I need. And if more cards start to support Apple Wallet, I might be able to slim it down even more.

But to get back to the notebooks… The Louise Carmen branded inserts are attractive– a pretty minimalist black card stock cover, with just “notes” and the Louise Carmen brand stamped on the front, and the Louise Carmen website stamped on the back. 60 pages are stitched in a single signature, similar to Moleskine Cahiers, rather than the staple-bound Field Notes. Dotted and plain versions are available. The dotted version has numbered pages, and a header with a space for the date. It bothers me a little that on one side, the word “date” is on the left, and on the facing page, it’s in the middle. Why?? The numbering of the pages was also sometimes slightly cut off by the rounded corners. All the pages are perforated.

louise carmen notebook refill
louise carmen dot grid notebook

The paper is ok, but not great. It has a slight texture to it, and doesn’t feel as smooth as the silkier Moleskine and Nolty paper I’m used to. Some fountain pens bled through a little bit, at least on the dot-grid paper, but gel ink pens worked fine, and showed through perhaps a little less than average. My tests on the plain paper were better– Sailor Seaweed Indigo ink seemed to feather a bit, but nothing bled through, and the ink colors looked nice and vibrant. Some people may be fine with this paper, but since there are so many other options for refills in this size, it’s not like you’re stuck with it!

louise carmen dot grid notebook pen test
louise carmen notebook dot grid pen test back of page
louise carmen plain page notebook pen test
louise carmen notebook plain page pen test back of page

To sum up, I love this notebook/wallet. For me, it solves most of the problems that made me not love my Travelers Notebook. The wrap-around horizontal elastic will never be my favorite closure, but the overall design and quality of this notebook cover make it something I want to hold and fondle and use. It wasn’t cheap, but it’s versatile and durable enough that it should be useful for a very long time.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this review tomorrow, where I’ll discuss options for purchasing a Louise Carmen notebook.

Notebook in “The Glass Onion”

My most recent Netflix viewing was The Glass Onion, which includes an incredible number of cameo appearances by celebrities. It also happens to include a fun cameo appearance by one of my favorite notebooks!

I won’t talk about how the notebook is involved in the plot, but here’s a few photos I grabbed.

Writing blurred so as not to give any spoilers!

The notebook seems to be one of my beloved Bindewerk Linen journals, with unlined pages. At first I thought the size might be a little larger than my 3.5 x 5.5″ notebooks– maybe 4×6. But it’s hard to tell and it could just be that Janelle Monáe’s hands are smaller than mine! It looks like they added a ribbon marker to it, at least in some shots, and a character’s initials are embossed on the cover. There were a couple of close-up shots of writing in the notebook where I thought the paper texture looked exactly like Bindewerk’s.

Here’s mine to show a comparison.

If it’s not a Bindewerk, I have no idea what brand it could be. And I can’t identify the slightly larger notebook that is shown on the table underneath it in the first photo. Let me know if you have any guesses!

Notebooks, journals, sketchbooks, diaries: in search of the perfect page…