Moleskine Chapters Notebook Review

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It's ironic that recent Pen Addict podcast chat has been around the Moleskine notebooks because I too recently thought "huh, I wonder if those Moleskine notebooks are any better." I was enticed by pretty mint coloured covers and exposed pink binding that made me buy one of the Moleskine Chapters notebooks. I been using it as a work notes scratch pad and I have some, mostly unsurprising, thoughts.

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What was I thinking?

I'm a little annoyed with myself for being suckered in by prettiness when I know these notebooks have crap paper. I was intrigued by the form factor, it reminded me of a Travelers Notebook insert and I enjoy ruled notebooks so this kind of ticked a few boxes.

Size comparison against a Travelers Company refill and a Hobonichi Weeks

Size comparison against a Travelers Company refill and a Hobonichi Weeks

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That paper.

Moleskine notebooks have always had a bad reputation for poor quality paper. The paper in this notebook is dyer. It failed with pretty much any pen I used. Fountain pens with an EF nib feathered like crazy and the bleed through was awful. My Baron Fig Squire didn't fare much better with horrendous show through on the other page.

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Gel pens worked fine on the paper but it's so thin I felt like it could tear. The only writing tool that worked ok was a pencil but then there's so many other better paper options for graphite that I'd rather not waste my time with the Moleskine.

Final thoughts.

This is a brief review today because it's simple, don't waste your time, money or ink/graphite on one of these notebooks. Buy something with better paper and actually enjoy using a notebook.

NaNoWriMo 2017 Toolkit

Over the years I have wanted to take part in NaNoWriMo but there were numerous reasons I wasn’t able to, one of the big ones being poor planning. This year however I am a bit more prepared and have a plan to take part in my first NaNoWriMo.

Obviously being a stationery addict an important part of NaNoWriMo is deciding what stationery items I will use to write my story. This kind of falls into the category of #preptober, where you use the month before NaNoWriMo (October) to plan your story so you are raring to go on the 1st November.

I have a small, but I think, good toolkit to help me through the challenge. I think writing out the full story using pen and paper will be tough so I will more than likely lean on my digital tools.

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Analogue tools

I have created a mini bullet journal for NaNoWriMo where I have been noting down ideas on characters and plot. I have also included a word count tracker with the aim of staying focused and a calendar view to decide what to tackle when. I haven't planned out the full month, but the first ten days have a loose outline. This extremely important information is in my Baron Fig Black Box limited edition Vanguard notebook.

To write my bestselling novel I am using the latest Baron Fig Vanguard limited edition release, the School Set. The lined ruling is ideal and I like a slimmer notebook when you are writing for longer periods of time, less ledge ache. To actually write I will be using my Archer pencil that came with this limited edition release, the new Baron Fig Squire, The Insightful Spectre and my Lamy LX fountain pen inked up with Sailor Blue Black. Any editing I may do along the way will probably be done with my Artline Magenta pen so that it stands out on the page clearly.

Digital tools

I will be using my iPad to write using a markdown editor, either iAWriter or Ulysses. I also have my Apple keyboard to make typing that little bit easier.

Feeling nervous

I am already less than confidant that I will be able to call myself a NaNoWriMo finisher. I am sure my story will run out of steam, or I will, leaving me with part of a story. But I really wanted to take part this year and use the encouragement of the community to drive me on and get 1667 words down each day. It'll also be really nice to see some used, beat up, scribbled in notebooks, but that's the geek in me.

Wish me luck.

Travelers Company Weekly Refill Comparison

My Travelers Company Weekly refills

My Travelers Company Weekly refills

I have used the Travelers Company 019 free weekly refill for a couple of years as a mini journaling notebook. I love this refill for recording memories of my day in the calendar section and using memo pages to add ephemera, include decorative lettering, quotes from something I have read or heard that week and on the odd occasion an Instax photo.

I have finished three of these refills and I love looking back through them. I don’t revisit many of my notebooks and rarely flick through old Hobonichi Techos, but these refills bring me back time and time again.

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Recently I bought the second refill of the 2017 vertical weekly insert. I had never used the vertical format before and I was intrigued about how this would compare to the horizontal weekly + memo refill. As I have been using both of these inserts for some time I thought I would share with you my thoughts.

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Horizontal weekly refill + notes

This version of the weekly refill has a seven day calendar view on the left hand side of the page broken down into seven horizontal sections. The free weekly refill is undated giving you the flexibility to miss weeks out if I want or need to and to start this refill at any time of the year. As it is the undated version there is very little additional calendar content on each page.

A blank spread in the horizontal week + memo refill

A blank spread in the horizontal week + memo refill

The right hand page is the notes section which is the main difference between these refills. I use this space to add notes, quotes, stickers or photos which have some sort of relevance to my week but perhaps not a specific day. The weekly memo pages are really handy and a big selling point of this refill.

A completed week in my horizontal refill

A completed week in my horizontal refill

Vertical weekly refill

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I bought the second half of the vertical 2017 refill because I wanted to see how it compared to the horizontal refill and if I could get the same content into the vertical format.

A blank spread of the vertical weekly refill

A blank spread of the vertical weekly refill

The week is spread over two pages with each day getting a thin section of the page. There are hour stamps for each day and a small notes section at the bottom of the page. As this is a dated refill there is also additional calendar information that sits in the ‘spare’ space.

A completed week in my vertical refill

A completed week in my vertical refill

I have been using my vertical refill to record time specific portions of my day. I have been able to capture more information and due to its format I can see how I am spending my time. The space allocated to each day is really narrow and if you want to keep everything within the guidelines it can be tricky.

To make this refill feel less functional I add stickers, stamps and washi to decorate the pages. It's a lot harder to include larger items such as Instax photos. I find the notes section at the bottom of the page pretty useless. I rarely use this section of the page and it feels wasted.

Six months over two pages where I track what I am reading

Six months over two pages where I track what I am reading

Commonalities with both refills

Both refills have a double page annual calendar and a double page spread with a six month calendar view. I use the six month view to note down the books I have been reading tracking how long it has taken me to finish each one. As I don't use this refill as a planner this seemed like a good use of these pages.

The light grid ruling found in Travelers Company refills 

The light grid ruling found in Travelers Company refills 

The weekly refills have the great Travelers Company paper and light grey grid ruling which I love as its unintrusive. The paper is great for using with fountain pens in particular but great for most writing tools.

So which one is better?

Obviously this review is heavily opinion based and depends a lot on how you use your inserts and your particular journaling style. Having used both inserts for some time now I really prefer the horizontal + notes refill. The horizontal format gives me more useable space and suits the way I journal.

A highly decorated journal spread

A highly decorated journal spread

The vertical weekly refill works really well as a planner or a time tracking tool but I don’t enjoy this refill as much for journaling. There are lots of great examples of how this refill can work for journaling from people such as Jobs Journal and Momolovespaper but for me it just doesn't work.

For 2018 I will be buying the pre-dated horizontal + notes refill to continue my mini journaling notes.

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.