Category Archives: Diary

Jibun Techo Planner

The Hobonichi Techo has become a cult favorite over the last few years, but it’s not the only Japanese planner system out there. I noticed the Jibun Techo at the Baum-kuchen website:

“JIBUN TECHO will be a good fit for you if you:

–manage your agenda with monthly/weekly but does not need a predated daily page.
–enjoy creating a weekly spread as your life log.
–are in search of a light weight planner to bring with you everywhere.
–LOVE Tomoe-river paper. “

The layouts look elaborate but fun, with a bit more color and more icons than the Hobonichi, which may please people who like a really dense page design. The planner shown above is meant to be used as part of a system, with additional notebooks for “life” and “ideas” that can be tucked in a binder with it.

There isn’t that much information about the system in English, but I found a couple of blog posts with detailed reviews:

Belle Cooper blog

40 and Above

See more at: Baum-kuchen – JIBUN TECHO 2018 [PRE-ORDER]

Queen Victoria’s Urdu Notebook

You may have heard about the movie Victoria and Abdul, which stars Judi Dench as Queen Victoria, and Ali Fazal as a young Indian servant named Abdul Karim, whom she became close to. He taught her to speak and write in Urdu, which she practiced in notebooks such as the one below.

Karim kept his own diary, and his journals were used as a source for the story told in the movie.

Source: Queen Victoria’s rare notebook when she learned Urdu under the tutelage of Abdul Karim goes on display | The Indian Express

Nomad Notebooks: Kickstarter Ending Soon!

Here’s a cool Kickstarter project that is ending on October 13, 2017: Nomad Notebooks. They still need about $9k to make their goal (as of this writing) and I hope they make it! The project involves the tried and true formula of 3-packs of pocket notebooks, but with a couple of twists: the notebooks are made of a mixture of papers, with different themes for each pack. They started out using repurposed papers, and will be launching 3-packs with a Sea/Air/Space theme, Graph paper theme, and Planner theme.

 

Repurposed:
nomad repurposed

Sea:
nomad sea

Air:

nomad air

Space:

nomad space

Graph:

nomad graph

Planner:

nomad planner

The other twist is that they have angled corners– that part isn’t really a positive for me, but it does mean they’ll be easier to slide into leather covers, which are also part of the Kickstarter.

nomad 3 setnomad leather cover

 

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Writers on Keeping Diaries and Journals

Some great quotes about journal-keeping, from a variety of writers, including the ones below:

“People who keep journals have life twice.”

– Jessamyn West

 

“The diary taught me that it is in the moments of emotional crisis that human beings reveal themselves most accurately. I learned to choose the heightened moments because they are the moments of revelation.”

 – Anaïs Nin

The image is James Eike’s Field Book, 1960 from the Smithsonian Institution

Read more at: Why Writers Keep Journals | Writing on the Pages of Life

Phil’s Stationery, NYC

Phil’s Stationery is a gem– assuming you like messy, dusty, old-school office supply stores, that is! I’d never heard of it until a few weeks ago when I happened to meet someone for lunch nearby and saw this amazing sign:

phil stationery - 1

There are so few stores like this left in NYC, especially in what must be a pretty expensive location on 47th St. not far from 5th Avenue. I didn’t take any photos inside the store, but as you walk in, there are large displays of Rhodia and Clairefontaine notebooks, as well as a counter with pens. As you go further back into the store, there are also racks of Moleskines and Filofax, and shelves with a wide variety of other notebooks, ledgers, pads, pens, etc. The further back you go, the messier it gets– there are shelves with all sorts of random products jumbled around. It has some of the same time-warp quality as the Montclair Stationery store I wrote about in this post.

I only bought one thing:

notebook

I haven’t bought a spiral bound notebook like this in years, but I couldn’t resist! What brand is it? Where is it made? It’s a mystery, as there are no markings on it other than what you see on the front cover. Some other colors were also available. And the price was right: $1.09, including tax!

Smelly Notebooks

Is smell ever a factor in your notebook usage? I’ve tested a few notebooks over the years that had distinctive odors, sometimes pleasant, sometimes not. When I reviewed the Rendr Sketchbook, one of the first things I noticed about it was a strong chemical smell, although it faded after unwrapping. One Moleskine I bought on eBay had a wonderful smell, as though it had been stored in a drawer with cedar or some sort of scented candles or potpourri (I’m not necessarily fond of scented candles or potpourri, but it was a nice woodsy, herbal smell, not super perfume-y).

Usually Moleskines just have a sort of inky smell, not at all unpleasant, but the one I just started using, another eBay purchase of older stock, has a gross odor, kind of barfy-smelling. It’s the first time I’ve ever experienced this, and I’ve used dozens of Moleskines over 15+ years. It’s still noticeable several days after unwrapping the notebook and using it, so I tried swabbing some eucalyptus oil on the inside front and back covers– that helped somewhat, but the yucky smell is still there. I also pulled a couple of leaves off my patchouli plant and stuck them in the back pocket, that that’s not solving the problem either. It reminds me of an old TV commercial from the 1980s, for some sort of room deodorizer spray. The ad criticized the competition for merely adding perfume rather than neutralizing odors: a little girl whines “Ewww, now it smells like fish and roses!” Well, now my notebook smells like eucalyptus and patchouli and vomit.

I keep riffling through the pages in hopes that it will air out and today, I put it in a bag with some candles to see if the smell will improve but what if it doesn’t? Can I bear to get rid of it?? Or will I just be wrinkling my nose for the next few months while trying to finish this notebook as quickly as possible? Oh, the drama… what would you do??

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Moleskine Monday: My Collection

I haven’t done many Moleskine Monday posts lately… and it’s been a while since I’ve updated you on my stash of spare Moleskines. For those who haven’t read other posts where I’ve talked about how I feel about the Moleskine brand, here’s an abbreviated version:

Late 1990s/early 2000’s— not too long after Modo e Modo introduces them, I start seeing Moleskines in stores, and receive a pocket Sketchbook as a gift. It re-awakens my slightly dormant notebook fetish and I start using them for occasional notes and drawings. But I’m not totally obsessed because I’m still really into Palm Pilots. During this period I think I once bought 2 sketchbooks while on a 3-week business trip, and it made me feel like a crazy hoarder.

Mid-late 2000’s— the softcover Moleskines are introduced and for some reason, I fall head over heels in love with the pocket size squared softcover. It’s the first notebook I’ve truly filled from cover to cover. I start this blog and allow myself to wallow in full-on notebook adoration. (Palm Pilots are over, the iPhone isn’t as exciting, and I turn back to notebooks to satisfy my life-long need to fondle something small and rectangular.) My love affair with the softcover fades, but I am using and buying lots of hardcover Moleskines and other similar notebooks such as Piccadilly, HandBook Artist Journal, and the many others I’ve written about here. The Moleskine brand has exploded. They’re everywhere. They’ve become a bit of a cliché, perhaps, but I still love them. I settle into a habit of simultaneously using a pocket squared or plain notebook for daily list-making and journaling, and a pocket sketchbook for drawing and watercolors. (My other routine notebook is a small Moleskine cahier or Field Notes that I use for my French class.) At some point during this period, they stop putting the Modo e Modo name on them, and start using only “Moleskine” in all their branding. They also change their US distributor from Kikkerland, who used to be mentioned on the packaging, to Chronicle, who is not. At this time, I maybe stockpile half a dozen Moleskines, a few Piccadillies, and a couple of HandBook Artist Journals.

Early 2010’s— Moleskine’s rapid growth seems to have led to declines in quality and changes in how they’re made. They are introducing new products at a dizzying pace and focusing more on bags and wallets than notebooks. There’s too much cover overhang, they’re less refined, the paper is thinner– they’re just not as nice. But there still isn’t any other brand that quite meets all my preferences for daily notebooks. When I buy Moleskines in a store, it’s only after inspecting them very carefully to see if they are good ones. Sometimes I find older stock from batches that were better made. I would guess that at this point, I might have hit about 20 unused Moleskines stashed for future use.

Mid- 2010’s— I can’t find good Moleskines in stores anymore.  I have to send in quality complaints about a couple of notebooks ordered online– the company sends replacements, but they aren’t much better. I’ve had it. In February 2014, I post Moleskine Monday: I May Never Buy a New Moleskine Again. But I also turn to the internet and start searching for older stock that still has the Modo e Modo name on it, and once in a while, I hit the jackpot, especially on eBay. I quickly realize that I can only buy Moleskines if I see a photo of the actual notebook, not a standard product shot which may be out of date. Whenever I see the older-looking belly-bands (someday I’ll do a post on how their design has evolved over the years), I snap them up if I can get them for a less-than-outrageous price. I start building up my stash of spares, which by August 2014 includes 37 assorted Moleskines that I would potentially use as everyday notebooks/sketchbooks. After a while, it’s grown quite large and I start trying to track my inventory in a spreadsheet, but I don’t do a great job keeping it up to date. Last time I updated the spreadsheet, the total count was 132. I decide to cut back a bit on my eBay browsing, as I’m running out of room to store all my notebooks!

Now— below are some photos of my stash, which is stored in shoe boxes, some under-bed plastic boxes, and in piles on shelves. Whenever I look at some of the really nice old ones with their perfect corners, I get all pissed off all over again, knowing that somebody once figured out how to make the perfect notebook and then they turned it into crap!

 

I also had a whole drawer-full in my office, until I started working from home. I’m counting just my actual Moleskine branded notebooks for the purposes of today’s post, though I also have a bunch of similar non-Moleskine notebooks earmarked for potential daily usage someday (as opposed to things that are fun to have in my collection, but not planned to be used). Here’s the count:

56 pocket sketchbooks. (I go through about 3-4 a year.)

55 pocket squared (I go through about 3-4 a year.)

12 pocket plain

30 pocket ruled (I normally don’t like ruled notebooks but on a couple of occasions I bought large lots of mixed paper styles. Since they are old ones with good paper and good overall quality, I’m willing to use one occasionally just to stretch out the lifespan of my inventory.)

Other pocket size: 1 storyboard, 1 music, 1 info book, 1 plain softcover, 1 address, 2 Japanese album, 2 ruled reporter, 1 squared reporter

Large size: 1 Voyageur, 1 large sketchbook, 1 large squared

I have not counted any “cahier” or Volant thin notebooks, as I have a few of those mixed in with various Field Notes and other similar stapled or stitched-spine notebooks. But the quantity is very small, just a few I’ve been given.

A few of the sketchbook, squared and plain ones are more recent models that I will use as a last resort. The info book is all crooked and defective, and I’m not quite sure why I’m even keeping it. But the count ends up at over 166 Moleskines, over 150 of which I am likely to potentially use on a day to day basis. (I haven’t counted the sketchbook and squared notebooks I am using now, or any of the dozens I’ve already filled.)

So… I know I’m a little crazy. My partner, who has to live with notebooks constantly arriving in the mail and taking up way too much of our limited space, definitely thinks I’m a little crazy (but also knows there are far worse vices). But the question remains, is it enough? 56 sketchbooks divided by 3 a year is a little less than 19 years, and I’ll only be about 67 years old at that point. The squared ones, if extended with the plain and ruled notebooks, will last up to 32 years, when I’ll be 81. I can probably ease off buying any more of those (unless I spot any really good cheap ones!) but I think I’m allowed to buy some more sketchbooks. Yay!

 

Notebook Addict of the Week: Amanda

This week’s addict emailed me the photo below and says:

“In the interest of going through and minimizing clutter, I’ve put myself on a one year notebook buying moratorium. I won’t be parting with any of them, but won’t be adding anymore either. I use them for a variety of things- lists, journals, reminders, and just have some as unknowns and enjoy all of their disparate and aesthetic qualities.”

Go a whole year without buying a notebook!?! Well, if one must, a large, colorful collection like this one is a good consolation!

Thanks for sharing your addiction, Amanda!

Random Giveaway!

It’s clean-out time! Talk to me about notebooks, people. Use the comments on this post, and/or Twitter posts containing “@notebookstories random giveaway” to tell me something about why you read Notebook Stories, why you love notebooks, what you write or draw in your notebooks, etc. I’ll pick 5 favorite responses from entries received before the deadline of Friday July 28, 2017 at 11:59 EST, and the winners will each receive a grab-bag of at least 4 assorted notebooks. Some of these notebooks may have a used page or two where I did pen tests for reviews, but otherwise they will be in new or like-new, usable condition and I’ll try to throw in some unusual items to spice up your collection! Have fun, everyone!

The Cape Horn Notebook, Made with Recycled Sails

Here’s something a bit different, a notebook that incorporates recycled sails and sailing rope:

“With the look, feel, and design of a traditional black notebook, the Cape Horn notebook reimagines used sails from the world’s most epic sailing expeditions as the ultimate storytelling tool.

The notebooks, which contain fragments of a sails that have traveled all the way to the southernmost tip of South America, aim to inject the dynamism of life at sea into everyday life.

Designed and created by Chilean designer Antonia Undurraga, herself an avid sailor, the notebooks merge two diverse industries – sailing and paper goods – into one product.”

Buy the Cape Horn notebook at Amazon.

The Cape Horn Notebook website has some interesting photos of the manufacturing process, much of which seems to be done by hand.

Source: Recycled Sails Get New Life With The New The Cape Horn Notebook – Crossroads Today

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