Baron Fig Limited Edition Unfinish Confidant Review

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Baron Fig sent me one of their brand new limited edition Confidants, the Unfinish edition. I have been testing this out for the past couple of weeks but I want to point out that all the views in this review are completely my own.

The Unfinish edition has a beautiful blue cover with blank pages that are scattered with unfinished images. The idea is that unfinished images inspire you to doodle. It’s a great concept for a notebook and another example of how Baron Fig are pushing the boundaries, in particular with their Confidant notebooks. (See the previous limited edition Askew).

Initial impressions after opening

The colour of the cover is stunning, but beyond that I was a little disappointed. The spine on my notebook had some puckering which I have never experienced on any previous Confidant. It’s a bit of a shame because it detracts from the otherwise high quality finish.

It's hard to show the puckering but I think you can see that the spine fabric is not stuck down and that gives me the puckering

It's hard to show the puckering but I think you can see that the spine fabric is not stuck down and that gives me the puckering

I was also thrown by the paper stock, it didn’t feel as textured and thick as other Baron Fig products. Initially I wondered if this had something to do with the unfinished images or whether Baron Fig had changed up their usual paper stock.

After these initial concerns I focused on the unique element of this notebook, the unfinished images. I wasn’t expecting these to be photographic images, I presumed they would be drawings. Because they are sections of photographs I did find it hard to make out the detail. The images became blurred and faint in part due to the blue ink colour. I am sure my poor eye sight plays some part in this. I also get that perhaps I shouldn’t be paying that much attention to these images, they are for inspiration rather than close examination.

A blank page view, also love the blue page marker. So pretty

A blank page view, also love the blue page marker. So pretty

My thoughts changed after using the notebook

After using the notebook in a number of different ways I liked it a lot more. Last week I used it for note taking at a conference ignoring the images and writing over them. The images are easy to ignore due to their blue colour as promised and my fountain pen ink didn’t seem too troubled by the blue ink. It looked as though it may smear but given a little time it dried fine.

Normal note taking use

Normal note taking use

I have also used the Unfinish notebook as a sketchbook. On the odd occasion I expanded on the images in the notebook but I am not a natural doodler and sometimes it just required too much brain power to think about how I could expand on the image (I am fully aware of how lazy that sounds). I have mostly used this to practice some hand lettering and outline a few things I am messing around with. For this purpose the notebook works really well with its blank pages and again I completely ignore the images if I don’t need them.

The paper isn’t different

My concerns about the paper were wrong. The paper handled my fountain pen without issue, there was no ink bleed through or feathering. I also used brush pens which without any issues which was a little surprising. There was some show through but based on the dark black ink and the weight of the lines I think thats acceptable. Pencils are fab in this notebook, but again no surprises there.

Paper comparison against 2 different Vanguard notebooks. Everything looks as it should.

Paper comparison against 2 different Vanguard notebooks. Everything looks as it should.

Overall thoughts

Baron Fig’s limited edition Confidants are always good. Every one they have released looks great and the Unfinish edition is another solid Confidant release. The colour is stunning and the blank pages while not universally popular make sense for this edition. The Unfinish edition is not their strongest release but the concept is interesting and solid, it’s just perhaps one that will polarise opinions. I like that Baron Fig continue to think differently with the products they release and push boundaries, it makes them stand out from their competition by offering a paper product thats a little different.

Galen Leather Travelers Notebook Insert Review

Galen Leather contacted me to see if I would like to review one of their new products, the Travelers Notebook leather insert. I have been using my insert for a couple of months now, the views in this post are entirely my own.

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The Galen Leather Travelers Notebook insert took me a little by surprise. The insert arrives in a simple kraft box with the basic Galen Leather information on the front.

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Inside you receive a notecard telling you who made your product and an all seeing eye charm. The presentation is special but kept very simple. Touches like these aren’t essential but they set the tone of a product. It suggests attention to detail and makes the receiving of something luxurious quite special.

Set up

Honestly I was wowed when I actually felt, looked at and touched this leather insert. It's really beautiful. The leather is ever so slightly worn, with a smooth, soft texture that marks slightly to any rough touch. It's hard to convey how nice this insert in through the photos, when you have it in your hand and use it you really appreciate how good it is.

Inside there is a lot going on. The left hand side has a whole load of credit card sized pockets, the top one being very deep. On the right hand side there is a zippered section and another long pocket. So there is a lot of space and room for things in this insert. There is also a secretarial pocket and a very clever pen loop with an elastic back section making most pens fit in here nicely.

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There is no question that everything about this insert has been considered carefully and finished really well. I can see why Galen leather chose to design something like this, its fits in with their existing portfolio of products and suits the growing(?) Travelers Notebook market.

My TN set-up

My TN set-up

But does it work as an insert?

I don't think the use case and positioning of this insert is 100% right. I have been using this as intended, as an insert in my Travelers Notebook that holds my weekly refill for journaling and my little one's journal.

Bulky, bulky, bulky 

Bulky, bulky, bulky 

The issue is that the insert is thicker as the TN itself and when filled with papers, ephemera, stickers, book darts etc then the insert becomes very fat. Loaded up and in use for people on the move this insert would be one bulky burden.

In its intended use, the Galen Leather insert isn't for me because it isn't really an insert, it's a standalone product. Moving forward I plan to use this with a Hobonichi Weeks for 2018. The Weeks is slightly smaller than a TN insert and will slot in nicely into one of the long pockets. I can carry a small amount of the things that I need and also slot a pen in so I have something with the Weeks at all times. This would also make a great travel wallet, but as an insert in a TN it falls short.

Overall thoughts.

There is no question that the Galen Leather Travelers Notebook insert really is very special. I was genuinely surprised when I opened the box, the leather is stunning and the hand stitched finish is really impressive. I like the fact that someone has personally created and taken care over my final product. I just won't be using this in my Travelers Notebook.

I'd like to thank Galen Leather for contacting me and sharing their beautiful work.

TidyEmu Notepads Review

I was contacted by TidyEmu recently and asked if I would like to test out their products. I have reviewed their products in todays post but the views expressed are completely my own.

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TidyEmu create a small number of notepads designed to be functional but also to look nice. I was sent an A5 notepad and an A4 notepad to try out.

The first thing I noticed when I received my notepads was the colourful design. The design element comes from the different coloured boxes or the haphazard arrangement that doesn’t sacrifice the pads useable space. The boxes or columns on the different notepads have wide lines giving you plenty of room to scribble down your notes. This is a nice touch from a desk notepad where hurried scribble is more likely to appear and not your neat handwriting (see my photo below).

Scribble 

Scribble 

The paper quality is really good, it can handle fountain pen and ink, wet liquid ink pens and even a Sharpie pen held up well. What I like about these notepads is I can use any pen and know the paper can take it, theres no smearing and no bleed through. It’s what I want from a desk pad.

The A5 size notepad 

The A5 size notepad 

The reverse side of the A5 notepad - the Sharpie pen shows through but everything else performed well.

The reverse side of the A5 notepad - the Sharpie pen shows through but everything else performed well.

How I've used my notepads

Normally I am not a notepad user. I always have a notebook with me and anything I need to jot down tends to go in there. I also use a bullet journal which holds all my daily to dos so I wasn’t sure how this notepad would fit.

The A5 is by far my favourite. The smaller size means it's not too overpowering on my desk and I prefer the three column design. Each column has a space for a header which I’ve found useful. I’ve been using my A5 notepad to scribble small notes, things that pop into my head, codes I need to remember, product names, prices, people I have to email or ring, anything random like that that doesn’t need to be added into a notebook. I use one of the columns to jot down things I need to do or remember for the day and the other two columns are then used for random scribble. This has worked really well and I have been using around one sheet per day.

I found the A4 notepad harder to use partly because of the size but also due to the design. This notepad has a haphazard box design with an array of vertical and horizontal boxes of varying sizes.

There are seven boxes on the A4 pad so my first attempt at using this was for meal planning. The different size boxes meant that on some days I ran out of space so I quickly scrapped that idea.

I then tried using this as a desk notepad but I found the A4 size too big. The grid layout means the notepad is designed to be used in portrait which is a little limiting. If this had a dot or graph grid then perhaps I could have found different ways to use it.

As you can see I tried to fight the orientation but the lines were a little too bold to completely ignore it

As you can see I tried to fight the orientation but the lines were a little too bold to completely ignore it

Overall thoughts

I have really appreciated using these notepads. The designs are vibrant and fun and the paper quality is very good. I’d love to see some other colour options in muted tones and perhaps a traditional desk pad size but overall these notepads are pretty damn good.

Bullet Journal Update - September 2017

My Hobonichi Techo Cousin in a Midori MD notebook cover

My Hobonichi Techo Cousin in a Midori MD notebook cover

Bullet Journaling has become a thing for me. I have watched numerous videos and read a lot of posts about how people set up and use their bullet journals with the aim of finding my own style. I think after all this time I have found the solution that works for me.

The 2017 bullet journal plan

When I started out the year I had a clear idea of how I would be bullet journalling. I ordered the A6 Hobonichi Techo avec which is the smaller size of the Techos and the avec is two half year books.

My A6 Hobonichi Techo bullet journal

My A6 Hobonichi Techo bullet journal

The Hobonichi Techo has the essential elements of a bullet journal - monthly pages, pre-dated daily pages and pages that are suitable for future planning. Using the Techo as my bullet journal meant that I had a planner that was literally ready to go.

By March my mind started to wander and I was pining after my old Leuchtturm1917 bullet journal. Binge watching YouTube bullet journal videos pushed me towards the DIY option giving me the flexibility to change things regularly and having space to be creative.

Experimenting with daily layouts 

Experimenting with daily layouts 

Time for a change

In March I set up the second half of the month creating only weekly and daily spreads and using the time to try out additional ideas such as a reading tracker and a home to do list.

My reading list tracker 

My reading list tracker 

From April I set up the bullet journal properly and quickly found a layout from YouTuber Amanda Rach Lee that worked as I wanted it to. It was a double page spread that showed a small weekly overview on the left hand side and the remainder of the page contained my daily to dos. This weekly overview was exactly what I was looking for and it remained unchanged right through until August.

The weekly spread that worked so well for me

The weekly spread that worked so well for me

There were some pages that I found I wasn’t using and I very quickly dropped. The habit tracker, time log and project pages were discarded as I wasn’t using them and they became tiresome to create.

Despite being happy with the weekly layouts I found it a chore to set this up week after week and my notebook quickly started to look messy and unorganised.

Todays bullet journal set-up

In August I decided to go back into my Hobonichi Techo but this time use the Cousin. I like the A5 size and appreciate the extra room but I also like the week on two-page view that you don’t get in the A6 size. I have been using these pages as a rough time tracker to monitor where my time is spent each day. I still haven’t perfected this and feel like I am trying to find the right way to use these pages but for the time being they serve a functional purpose.

Weekly pages in the A5 Techo Cousin 

Weekly pages in the A5 Techo Cousin 

I use the monthly spreads as designed, to plan and note down everything that I need to remember for the month.

Monthly overview pages 

Monthly overview pages 

The daily pages are the most important aspect of the bullet journal for me. I use this as a practical planner and therefore really appreciate the pre-dated pages. I use the right hand side of the page to create my to do list. Everything gets dumped in here, mostly the night before but sometimes I plan ahead and add in to do’s for further on in the week.

How I set up my daily pages and how I use the page that starts off a new month

How I set up my daily pages and how I use the page that starts off a new month

On the left hand side of the page there is a time planning area. Most days I don’t really use this but sometimes I note down appointments here to show a loose structure to my day.

Things I still deliberate about

It seems a little silly to deliberate how to use my planner but I love using stationery and want a system that works for me. Over the course of my bullet journaling I have come to the conclusion that I am not a decorative bullet journaler. I use this as a tool to get my life in order and dump all my to dos in one place. Because of this the Techo is perfect for me. The tomoe river paper lets me use all my fountain pens and gorgeous inks. I have found that the Cousin is the perfect size and I like having everything in one notebook.

As the 2018 Hobonichi Techo planners have just been released I am now thinking about how I improve on this set-up and what I will need for next year. I am in no rush to order and will continue to see if my Techo bullet journaling sticks, but I really think I have found the best solution for me and as the cool kids say ‘planner peace’.