Notebook Addict of the Week: Elissa Altman

This week’s notebook addict is food writer Elissa Altman, who calls herself a “journal junkie” and shares these images at her blog Poor Man’s Feast:

Here’s some of her thoughts about her addiction:

I don’t know when it happened, exactly, or why, but for as long as I can remember, I’ve been fanatical about notebooks. When I was a child, I could never decide between spiral and stitch-bound for school (spiral always seemed to be sort of non-committal), and when I was old enough for a loose leaf, my father gave me a small, leather three-ring binder that his sister had given him when he was not yet ten. I still have it—it sits on my desk, filled with the same lined paper from 1974, which has not yet yellowed. For years, I’ve wanted to use it as my kitchen notebook, but I just can’t bring myself to; on the one hand, I worry that regular use will harm it after almost eighty years, and on the other, I worry that forcing utilitarianism upon it will somehow render it less meaningful to the universe. Which is just plain nuts, when it gets right down to it.

And more thoughts specifically about notebooks and cooking:

When it comes to the subject of food, and cooking, though, I find almost nothing more enticing to read than kitchen notebooks because they place the reader in the kitchen of the cook, with the cook. Given the choice between M.F.K. Fisher’s narrative and her notebooks, I’d grab the latter first. My best college friend once sent me James and Kay Salter’s Life is Meals, and after years of perusing it, the book now falls open to the entry about their old kitchen notebook. Recently, my colleague and fellow blogger, Heidi Swanson, published a post about creating a new cookbook manuscript, and it was an amazing look at her creative process, involving lots of notebooks. And her photo of all those notebooks? Oh Heidi. So sultry.

I’m getting hungry just thinking about it… hungry for food, and for a look at some of those kitchen notebooks!

Read more at Poor Man’s Feast: Notebook Lust: Confessions of a Journal Junkie.

A Notebook in “Eat, Pray, Love”

A wonderful passage from Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia, by Elizabeth Gilbert:

I found an empty notebook, opened it up to the first page– and only then did I open my mouth and speak those words into the air, letting them free. I let those words break my silence and then I allowed my pencil to document their colossal statement onto the page:

“I love you, I will never leave you, I will always take care of you.”

Those were the first words I ever wrote in that private notebook of mine, which I would carry with me from that moment forth, turning back to it many times over the next two years, always asking for help– and always finding it, even when I was most deadly sad or afraid. And that notebook, steeped through with that promise of love, was quite simply the only reason I survived the next years of my life.

That’s a pretty powerful notebook.

“Pens & The Post” Event at the Smithsonian Museum This Saturday

Someone from the Smithsonian wrote to me about this event, which sounds like wonderful family fun for pen and handwriting lovers! Jot this in your notebook as a must-do if you’re in the Washington DC area this weekend!
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WHAT: Pens & the Post: Collect, Correspond, Celebrate!

WHEN: Saturday, May 29

11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

WHERE: Smithsonian National Postal Museum
2 Massachusetts Ave. NE

The National Postal Museum, along with the Pen Collectors of America and Fahrney’s Pens, are hosting “Pens & the Post: Collect, Correspond, Celebrate!” Pens, postage and mail have long gone hand in hand. Explore the shared history of pens and mail with the whole family.

The following activities taking place throughout the day:

· Make a creative card to send to a friend with young designer Sophia Breuer

· Watch an expert calligraphy demonstration by expert calligrapher Deborah Basel

· Take a fancy fountain pen for a spin at the “Pen Petting Zoo” provided by Fahrney’s Pens

· Sample a rainbow of ink colors with John Bosley, author of Vintage Inks

· Try out beautiful papers from plain to posh with handwriting specialist Nan Barchowsky

· Just in time for Memorial Day, pen a letter to U.S. military members and learn about World War II-era correspondence.

· Meet the Pen Collectors of America and find out more about the pen collecting community

· See a pen set belonging to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and beautiful stamps featuring pens and handwriting in a scavenger hunt

Short workshops provide the opportunity to learn from the experts and try new skills:

· 11:30 a.m. – Pens for Kids Workshop presented by the Pen Collectors of America

· 12:30 p.m. – Cursive for Kids Workshop presented by Fahrney’s Pens

· 1:30 p.m. – Pens for Kids Workshop presented by the Pen Collectors of America

· 2:30 p.m. – The Glory of Pen Collecting presented by the Pen Collectors of America

Moleskine Monday: A Fashion Accessory!

Here’s a young man whose red Moleskine is being seen as a key part of his personal style, according to this fashion column from the newsletter of Salt Lake City Community College:

If I had to pick my favorite part of Braxton’s get-up, I would have to say his fire-engine-red Moleskine pocket notebook ( gets my vote. Not that I don’t love his choice in clothes, but the idea that something unrelated to apparel can be part of your style is something to think about. I’m off to go get my own notebook right now.

You can read more about what they think of his actual clothes at Student LookBook – Arts & Entertainment.

Notebook Addict of the Week: Sean

This week’s Notebook Addict has been intensively documenting his life in daily journals, kept over many years. The photo below shows 5 years’ worth of notebooks, from 1985 to 1990. I love how beat-up they are, totally covered with writing and doodles.

Here’s 15 more journals covering 1994-2005:

Here’s what Sean has to say about his notebooks and journaling habit:

For the past 25 years, since I was 11 years old, I’ve been writing a daily (more or less) journal. I’ve just completed my 43rd volume in a series that has captured more than two thirds of my life. This collection of my daily activites, hopes and dreams, thoughts and opinions, prayers and meditations, short stories and sermon notes, to-do schedules and grocery lists is probablly the most valuable physical possession I own. Money can’t buy it and it is literally irreplacable. These tattered notebooks are so valuable to me that when we moved to and from and Saipan, I hand-carried all forty-something volumes rather than risk losing them with my suitcase or in the mail.

He’s now continuing his journal online in a blog. Read more at Here in America: A Life in Words and Pictures.

International Fake Journal Month

I love this concept, and wish I had heard about it before now, as it occurs in April each year: International Fake Journal Month. Here’s the creator’s explanation:

What Is International Fake Journal Month?
Basically it’s a free pass to put anything in a journal that you might not otherwise put in. At least that’s one way to see it. From April first to April 30, you are encouraged to keep a fake journal different from and outside of your regular visual journal. (Writers are welcome to participate as well, just keep a separate journal for the purpose.)

Take on a new persona, alter ego, or be the same person you are now, except in an alternate universe. Maybe you are a cat person and always draw cats, well for April you’ll start a fake journal and just draw birds, with a passion, as if they were the most important animal on the planet. (You can of course continue drawing cats in your real journal, if it suits you.)

The only catch is that you need to date your entries in present time, as you complete them, i.e., April 1, 2009, 8 p.m., April 3, 2009, 4 a.m., and so on. Oh, and it has to be a self-contained journal, not your regular journal (that’s two catches).

Maybe you want to live somewhere else? Well make a daily journal as if you are already there. It may mean that you’ll need to draw from your imagination a lot because things won’t be in front of you, but there are ways around that. Go to an antiques store or thrift shop and draw those items incorporated in a new reality. Or draw them as your daily drawing activity and make up stories about them.

Perhaps you are always working in pencil. Now is the time to become that artist who always works in pen, just go for it. Or if you are always image heavy in your journal, spend some time writing, pages and pages.

Why? because it’s fun, that’s why. And how often in life to you get a free, no guilt, no shame, just go for it pass on making things up (after the age of 3 of course)?

What a great creative exercise! So many of us keep journals but have those times when you just worry it’s a bit boring– but with a fake journal, you can make it as interesting and action-packed as you want!

For some interesting thoughts from one fake-journaler, Melinda Bilecki, about the whole process, check out this post. A few sample pages from fake journals are below.

Above: The final image from Melinda Bilecki’s 2010 fake journal. ©2010 Melinda Bilecki.

Above: an image from Spy Girl’s 2010 fake journal. Image ©2010 Anne M. Bray.

This is such a wonderful idea, mark your calendar to participate next April!


Smythson Notebooks for British Cabinet Members

This is amusing: Which Smythson notebook would you give to which Cabinet minister?

Smythson are the makers of lovely little leather-covered notebooks with whimsical phrases embossed on the front. (Somewhere in my collection I have their “Blondes Brunettes Redheads” address book.)

The proud holder of two royal warrants, Smythson of Bond Street (established in 1887 and sold for £18 million last December to an Italian leather goods company) is well known for being terribly posh. Many of its offerings are beyond the reach of the ordinary shopper – £900 handbags and bespoke stationery printed on card that is thicker than most novels, for example.

But they also sell a deeply fashionable, leather-bound collection of notebooks whose titles, once limited to “SHOOTING NOTES” and “WINE NOTES”, now include the considerably hipper “WHATEVER” and “ME, ME, ME”. Starting at £40, these witty, gold-embossed notebooks have – like a Lib-Dem Conservative coalition – a broader, more populist appeal.

Indeed, there is just the notebook for our new Prime Minister and for most members of his cabal.


David Cameron, Prime Minister

He held his nerve, and he nailed his deal. How well it all goes remains to be seen. But beneath that steely mettle and the odd joke, he’s bound to indulge in occasional moments of hysteria.


Theresa May, Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities

Amid all the austerity, in-fighting and scurf-covered suits, we’ll leave it to this lady – in her natty kitten heels – to keep things light at Westminster.


Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister

It all began as a dream, a pipe-dream. Then came the television debates – which launched him like one of Simon Cowell’s pop stars – and, bang, he’s number two in the cabinet. Whatever will his ambitious subconscious come up with next?

Apparently David Cameron’s wife was the Creative Director at Smythson (where she made about £400,000!). So it’s a bit awkward that the Queen’s traditional gift to a parting Prime Minister is a Smythson photo frame. Maybe Gordon Brown will start using a red Moleskine now…

Moleskine Monday: Customized Cahier with Vintage Photo Cover

This is one of the more interesting customized Moleskine Cahiers I’ve seen on Etsy. That’s a vintage snapshot sewn to the cover– very cool!

Find out more at Strawberry Canyon Hike One of a Kind Moleskine by firandfeather.

Notebook Addict of the Week: Andrea

Andrea sent me these great photos of her notebook collection, with the notes below. Pen and ink lovers, there’s an extra bonus for you!

I am student of classical archaeology (hardly working on the dissertation thesis) and few months ago I found your website. I was so glad that I am not the only one, who is really “possessed”:) Please, take this as a big thanks for your work:)
01 – This is my “almost black” collection with Moleskine, Miquelrius, Filofax and some notebooks without name. The A4-Nightmare Jack notebook I bought in Turkey and it is absolutely perfect:)
02-03 Details of my recycled notebooks from Rome (purchased in Capitoline Museums). They are beautiful, but it took lot of time to find the right pen for writing in these – the paper is rough, so the fountain pens are bleeding and the ballpoints are almost invisible there; but Faber Castell Drafting and Sketching pen 0.1 is perfect for it.
04 – My “working” notebooks. I am using them for notices about pottery, sketching the fragments. Except the pink one, all these are from Austria – “not-a-big-brand” perfect notebooks, very cheap and much more useful than Moleskine (I was so disappointed with the quality of lined journals: I cannot use my favourite fountain pens…). Those blue and orange notebooks are produced by company called Ursus (the bear) and they are extremely comfortable:)
05-08 This is my most beautiful notebook Asia. Here you can see the front cover, inner design, back pocket and back cover. Together with my ink collection, pens, nibs and nib holders, and my personal sealer with one piece of sealing wax:) I am freak when it comes to things like these…
09 I am sending you an example of my personal seal:) Hope you like it:)
10 This is little greeting from me, my little Coraline and my present notebook:)

I love the variety, and the tiny handwriting. Using a wax seal is a neat touch, too. Big thanks to Andrea for all these wonderful photos!