Sailor Shikiori Hisakata - Stardust Fountain Pen Review.

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The Sailor Shikiori Hisakata used to be known as the Sailor Procolor. I was lucky enough to be bought this pen as a gift from my husband. It's my first experience with a Sailor fountain pen and I think it's a great introduction. It comes in at a good price, approx £55 and is a great size. Plus there are some of the distinctive Sailor features available in this pen.

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My Shikiori Hisakata gets its Stardust name due to the barrel design. It has a resin body in a navy colour and throughout the barrel there are flecks of silver and blue that looks like Stardust or the night sky. I really love this design which is hard to emulate on a screen. In person and in the light the flecks within the pen body look wonderful. They really shine, but they’re not too bold and glittery. I’m not a glittery girl, but this works beautifully.

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The finish on the Stardust is chrome which compliments the colour nicely. Around the base of the pen cap there is quite a thick chrome ring which has the Sailor branding. Thee other chrome accents come from the pen clip and a ring around the top of the pen cap. Overall the amount of chrome detailing feels right.

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I have a fine nib which was purchased through The Writing Desk. This is the only nib size they have and as this is a Japanese brand the fine is very fine. The nib is small but the perfect size for this pen and it has some beautiful detailing that can be found on other Sailor fountain pens.

Sailor flourishes on the nib

Sailor flourishes on the nib

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This is a screw cap pen so your cap shouldn’t remove unnecessarily from the pen. The grip section has the same resin finish as the pen body which means that lovely design isn't broken up. It's comfortable to grip and I haven't experienced any slipping from the resin finish.

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Overall thoughts.

This is my first Sailor fountain pen and it is completely lovely. It’s a really nice pen to use, the nib is smooth and you get a super fine line. The pen is comfortable to write with for long periods of time and the weight balance is good. It’s a £55 Sailor pen and I think a great entry into Sailor. There are cheaper Sailor fountain pens you could try such as the Lecoule but the Shikiori Hisakata is a much prettier design.

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Hobonichi Weeks Review.

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Last year I bought my first Hobonichi Weeks planner and then left it in my drawer for the majority of the year gathering dust. I couldn't fit it into my system as I already had the Jibun Techo and several other notebooks in use, so The Hobonichi Weeks was left abandoned.

However towards the end of 2018, I knew I wouldn't be using the Jibun Techo again and started to wonder if I could fit the Weeks into my 2019 system. I spent the last few weeks of 2018 testing the Weeks out and trying to get a feel for it, and I felt confidant that I could use the Weeks for a full year.

Overview of the Hobonichi Weeks.

The Hobonichi Weeks is a slim diary / planner / organiser (whatever term you prefer). It’s that familiar, portable size that a you see from numerous different annual planners. As with all things from Hobonichi the simple is elevated to something more through thoughtful design.

The Hobonichi Weeks comes in a number of different cover designs that range from plain, bold colours through to the quirky. I have the cactus design which comes with tiny stitched cacti of all different forms. I have a clear plastic cover to protect the cover and for the extra pockets. I bought this last year directly from Hobonichi, it’s not something I have found from any third party retailer.

The Weeks includes two bookmarks which is always very useful. I use one to mark the current month and the second for the current week. I think two bookmarks in planners now is a standard with more and more brands additional an extra bookmark.

Finally, the paper. It is similar to other Hobonichi planners with beautiful tomoe river paper that I love because it handles pretty much any writing tool. The paper is a cream colour which I know can put some people off. Personally I like this because I find it softer on the eye.

Layout.

The layout inside is simple as with most things from Hobonichi. The first two pages are three year long calendars, the 2019 calendar on the left hand page giving this prominence and more room. On the right hand side there are two smaller calendars, one for 2018 and another for 2020. Having the previous year on this spread is quite useful for checking last years dates. I have referenced this a few times this year already.

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The next double page is dedicated to the full year with a tiny amount of space for you to make notes. I guess the idea is that you can add annual dates, mark off annual leave, that sort of thing. I haven't used this spread at all because I am not sure what I could mark here, or how I would fit it in.

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Monthly Spreads.

Then you head into your monthly spreads which starts from Dec 2018 and runs through to March 2020. The additional coverage is helpful as you’re not completely restricted to the year, you can start early and you also have space for future planning.

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The spreads are good but space is minimal due to the size of the planner. The simplistic design does mean that the space is maximised as much as possible. There is a grid pattern on each of these pages too which helps the user to maximise the space and keep their writing tidy.

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There is a small amount of note taking space around the sides on this page. I have jotted down monthly appointments, actions or to-dos here which is quite useful. Having some sort of ‘space’ for the extra things is always useful, whether that’s notes or decoration.

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On a final note, as this is a Japanese planner there are Japanese holidays included in red throughout. These are easy to ignore but could be a little confusing.

Weekly spreads.

After the monthly spreads you head into your weekly views. I love the layout of these pages, the week is on the left hand page with 7 days, each with an equal amount of space (hurrah!). On the right you get a grid page which is blank for anything else you may need to include.

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There are some small little flourishes on these weekly pages, which again maximise the available space without giving you the feeling of overcrowding. Firstly you have the phase of the moon under the days date. Not an important feature but kind of interesting and useful. Secondly there is a Japanese quote on the bottom of the page, which I cannot translate or understand, but this is a feature of the Hobonichi Planners. There is a small monthly calendar in the bottom right. It highlights the current week within that month but again allows you to glance ahead if needed.

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And finally the week number is called out at the top of the page, 52nd Week, 1st Week, etc etc.

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The rest.

The back of the planner has around 60 pages of grid paper for notes. I rarely use these but having some space there is very helpful and it doesn't add to the bulk of the planner because of the super thin tomoe river paper. There are also a handful of pages in Japanese with some interesting illustrations but again I cannot understand anything there. These pages seem to adjust each year and have a different focus.

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My use of the Hobonichi Weeks.

I am using the Weeks as a functional planner. I am not decorating the pages in any way, I use only fountain pen and ink or a gel ink pen. The purpose is to keep track of my tasks and appointments for the week. On the right hand side of each week I lay out the tasks I have for the week. I also use the space if required for any additional notes, such as physio exercises and headache patterns.

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I like the format and layout of the weeks for lots of reasons. The layout is very similar to the Travelers Company Weekly + Memo Weekly refill which I have used for years. This format has always worked well and I enjoy it.

The size is great too making it portable and allowing me to focus on the short and mid-term time frames. I still use a digital calendar for long term appointments, but this works great for managing my month and week.

I usually plan out my week on a Sunday and see what I need to get done in the next week. The week is then referenced and adjusted if necessary and the tasks reviewed and assigned a day in a different notebook.

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Overall thoughts.

The Hobonichi Weeks has found a purpose and place in my rotation and I really enjoy it. It’s a simple planner that most people will have used at some point, but the Hobonichi Weeks satisfies all those small extras that the stationery nerd enjoys. High quality materials, cute designs and paper that is a total joy to use.

The Sweet Setups All The Things Productivity Course. A Review.

I have never reviewed an online course on the blog before but I wanted to share my thoughts on The Sweet Setup’s All the Things course. This course caught my attention for lots of reasons. I knew Shawn Blanc used notebooks as part of his productivity method, but the element I wanted to delve into was how he incorporated his digital tools as well.

I had looked at the All The Things course a lot before I eventually bought it. I had watched the trailer several times and kept mentally committing myself to buy it for months before finally doing so. It seemed a little silly, perhaps even wasteful, to buy content on being productive. There are plenty of YouTube videos I could reference and work through but the dodgy shooting styles, questionable content and the authority of the YouTuber put me off. Productivity pointers and advise can feel condescending and a little obvious. However I was pulled back to this course because I had seen content online from Shawn Blanc and knew he was well thought of and respected, which really is why I eventually tried this out.

I had Things 3 downloaded on my phone and had used it a little, mostly to just throw in big to do items that I needed to tackle at some point. As Things 3 made up part of this course, and I was interested in how Shawn combined both the analogue and digital tools in his productivity process. Like most people, I have too much floating around in my head and managing the day to day tasks alongside the longer term ideas, or plans, or places to go, was something I never felt like I mastered. I think it was this that eventually made me check the course out.

All the Things course content.

The course is held in a personal Dashboard on The Sweet Setup website. The content is broken into two parts, All the Things Pro and Screencasts. You can buy these elements individually but I opted to buy both and take advantage of the small saving.

Screenshot taken from my personal dashboard, for illustration purposes.

Screenshot taken from my personal dashboard, for illustration purposes.

All the Things Pro portion of the course.

This is the section dedicated to productivity learning. There are a series of videos that vary in length from 7 through to 20 minutes covering topics including being productive, a hybrid method of planning, scheduling, planning and journaling. Also included is some written commentary to support each video. All but one of the videos are shot interview style with Shawn talking to the camera and sharing his experience and recommendations for being productive. The final video is shot overhead looking into his notebook, which unsurprisingly is the video I was most interested in.

Screencasts.

You then get the same set-up with the screencasts. Shawn walks you through using the Things 3 app on Mac, iPad and iPhone. In this section you get the basics of the app and what it can do, progressing onto some helpful hints and tips on how to get the most from the app’s interface.

Finally there is access to a series of interviews Shawn conducted with other people who use Things 3. These are written interviews and not audio or video. Something I was surprised by and I feel that it’s worth highlighting.

Is it worth it?

I keep coming back to this question when trying to settle my thoughts on the course. Obviously this is a subjective question and really depends on the person. The content is useful and production quality high making it easy to watch and digest. There are helpful suggestions and insights on how to become more productive. For obvious reasons I found this interesting.

I am not sure I needed this course. There wasn’t enough new content to add to the information that I had gathered over many years of reading blogs, books and trying to improve my own productivity. Ultimately these skills are honed and practiced and what works for me won’t work for everyone.

I think the free trailer is helpful and really does give you an idea of the content you get from the whole course. As with most of these things, the video fades just as you’re getting to the interesting stuff, but it is a good marker to understand whether you need this content.

Overall thoughts.

The All the Things course is good there is no doubt about that. The content is helpful, the production quality high and Shawn breaks things down really well into manageable sections. I would have loved some more notebook specific content, but I would say that.

With the interviews it would have also been great to have these in a media format, video or audio. I think this would have enhanced and really elevated the usefulness of these interviews.

I hope you found this post interesting. It’s not going to be a regular on the blog, because I don’t think there are many course relevant posts that would work here. I wanted to share my thoughts on this specific course because some of you may have come across it, or bought it already or looking for something just like this. Either way the next post will resume the normal format here at The Finer Point.

Mid-Week Mini: Zebra Sarasa Clip - Vintage Colours.

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The Zebra Sarasa Clip is my favourite gel ink pen. I have found them the most consistent gel pens giving me a smooth line and starting up even if it hasn’t been used for a while. I like the 05 tip size as I find the line width thin enough and I don’t feel like there is any friction on the page when writing. I wrote a review of the Sarasa Clip back in 2016 which you can find here.

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However I think the gem in the Zebra Sarasa Clip world are the Vintage colours. I was bought one of these pens by Priya from The London Parchment a few years ago in the blue-grey and I used it a lot! It was subtly different to anything I had tried before. The only downside at the time was they weren’t available in the UK, but that problems now resolved and you can grab these from Cult Pens. In todays post I will share with you the different colours available and try to explain why I love this pen so much.

Colour choices.

There are a range of muted tones in the Vintage line, Green-black, Blue-grey, Brown-grey, Red-black and Blue-black. I didn't bother buying the Blue-black, because, well...it’s blue-black and I kinda know what to expect from that colour. I was far more interested in the other options that came within this range.

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The Vintage colour choices are traditional colours, but those you would expect to sit within Vintage theme. My favourite is the blue-grey as the colour is subtle but different to any other blue gel pen I have tried. There is a lovely lightness which comes from the grey tones dulling the blue pigment. It works nicely though to give a subdued blue and manages to make a standard ink colour a little more interesting.

The brown-grey is my least favourite of the four mostly because it doesn't stand out against the other Vintage colours. Interestingly the grey element of this colour actually works well and really alters the brown colour nicely. Pairing this with the black would have been a mistake and perhaps darkened it too much, but the grey is distinctive and quite nice.

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The Red-black and Green-black sit somewhere in the middle. I like both and they feel very British reminding me a lot of Mini car colours. There is a vibrancy that you don’t get from the blue or brown inks. There is a hint of a teal shade in the green-black and the red is very bright.

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Overall thoughts.

The Zebra Sarasa Clip gel pen, especially in these Vintage colours, is my favourite gel pen to use. I often use these as an everyday pen and with my Travelers Notebook because you get a fine point. These pens are a great price too at £2.40 per pen. This is the higher end of a gel pen price but totally worth it for such a different and distinctive gel pen in a cool range of colours.