Paper

Field Notes Summer 2019 Release: National Parks Review

National Parks is the latest seasonal release from Field Notes created in conjunction with Fifty-Nine Parks. This edition is made up of three three packs with nine illustrations dedicated to Americas National Parks. This seasonal edition is utterly beautiful.

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To compliment the individual cover designs, each notebook has a different coloured card stock, mainly in pastel shades. They compliment the designs nicely, but they’re also really pretty colours.

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The usual Field Notes inside cover information has the addition of information on the National Park the book is dedicated to. Field Notes have included general knowledge style information on previous seasonal editions and it’s a nice touch. It gives you a chance to learn something while enjoying the notebook.

Information on the illustrator who designed the artwork is also included in each notebook. I have spent a bit of time down Instagram rabbit holes looking at these artists work.

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A few differences from the Field Notes norm.

This is the first edition where we see the Field Notes logo repositioned in order to support the cover design. Yosemite National Park from Series A and Rocky Mountain National Park from Series C have the focal point of their artwork to the top of the notebook. I am glad Field Notes didn't sacrifice these two notebook designs because they are beautiful and I am sure the stag has become a fan favourite.

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This edition doesn't include the normal belly band. As an alternative there is a sheet of kraft card stock including miniatures of the designs included within the pack and some general knowledge on all nine parks.

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My feelings on this edition.

This is the first Field Notes I have bought in some time and the first edition I felt compelled to snap up since Coastal. My infatuation with these little pocket notebooks has waned this year. The slightly odd format and design changes dampened my excitement around the seasonal releases and I got a bit tired of it all.

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And then came National Parks. I snapped up Series A and Series C. Honestly two packs were still too many but I just couldn't resist the artwork. I have used the Acadia National Park book from Series A. This is my favourite by far. I am currently working my way through the Great Smokey Mountains because the bears are just too cute. The little one reminds me of Brother Bear.

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Overall thoughts.

For the past few months I have been using passport size notebooks enjoying the marginally smaller size. But the National Parks designs are beguiling that I can’t stop looking at them. I have been pining after the Wilco x Field Notes limited edition in a similar way. Field Notes working alongside some interesting illustrators feels like its given these little notebooks new life. It’s got me excited about the brand again and I am interested to see what the next seasonal release brings.

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Mid-Week Mini: Sadler Jones Greetings Cards Review.

I find buying greetings cards hard. Most of the time the paper is average, the designs ok and the prices high. I tend to buy cards when I see them so that I have a small supply at home that I can dip into when I need it.

Some of my recent purchases.

Some of my recent purchases.

I came across Sadler Jones through Instagram, I forget exactly how, but I was attracted to the style of these cards. I have now bought two bulk orders over the past few months because the style and designs of their cards are so good. I wanted to share my thoughts and some photographs in todays post.

A personal favourite of mine.

A personal favourite of mine.

High Quality Paper.

I like to use fountain pens when I write my cards. Pen and ink looks nice and feels special, especially if the receiver is not a fountain pen user. However not all cards are fountain pen friendly, but Sadler Jones cards work perfectly. The paper is high quality stock that means you can use a lot of different writing tools. The envelopes seem to be pretty standard, white in general and yellow for Children’s cards.

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Fun designs.

Sadler Jones has a few different card themes on their site. Some of them are bold and bright, some have beautiful brush lettering and there are also some of the more cheeky kind (my personal favourites).

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Lovely gold foiling detail. 

Lovely gold foiling detail. 

Overall thoughts.

As I said at the start of todays post it’s tough to find high quality cards that tick the design box and are made with decent paper stock. Sadler Jones however are great and I’ve really liked the cards I’ve used. The prices are pretty standard and delivery is really quick. I wanted to share my experiences with Sadler Jones mainly because I have found it so hard to find good quality cards online that are recommended, so I felt compelled to share my experiences. I hope you find this useful.

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Trigg Life Mapper: Initial Impressions.

Trigg kindly sent me one of their award winning Life Mappers to review on the blog. All the thoughts shared in this post are my own.

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The Trigg Life Mapper has been on my radar for a while. I had seen people posting about their planner on Instagram and the bold colour scheme really caught my attention. I have an interest in planners generally and I like to see what and how people use them. Trigg also won the Best New Product at the Stationery Show in London earlier on this year. So I didn’t come to this product cold, I already had some thoughts based on what I had seen.

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This is the time of year when people are looking for planners, researching, watching YouTube videos and trying to gather all the information they can to make the best decision for their annual planner.

This review is lengthy and I have tried to cut it back but I felt like the information needed to be shared. Hopefully the headers will guide you through the review, but the plan is to discuss the layout of the Trigg Life Mapper and then give you my personal thoughts.

Productivity Assistance in your planning.

So part of the idea with the Trigg Life Mapper is to offer guidance with your goals for the year. There is a double page at the beginning where you can plan out your year and what you want to achieve.

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There is some guidance here, but it’s very generic and made me feel like I was filling in a job application. I hate being asked about my 5 year plan. It has the ability to make you feel inferior if you don’t have one, but also I don’t like planning out that far in advance, I feel like it sets you up to fail. This sort of start-of-the-year page is not uncommon by any means, but I feel that the questions being asked are dated.

There is a Visual Assessment graph section to fill out. There are 4 focus areas outlined which are: Self, Relationships, Passions and Work. These focus areas are generic and in many ways inclusive to people who perhaps would be interested in a planner. However I come back to the feeling of being restricted by these outlines. The focus areas are too obvious and they don’t resonate at any depth. I do however like the idea of showing reflective or start-of-the-year information in a visual format.

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Monthly Calendar Spreads.

These appear at the start of the planner and you get two months per double page spread. The space per day is a little tight and there definitely isn’t enough room for my big handwriting or multiple appointments per day.

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Each month has a focus and colour theme which ties back to Self, Relationships, Passions and Work. The focus themes are loose associations to the months their given. So for January your focus is intentions which is an obvious choice for the beginning of a new year; February is relationships which I guess is down to Valentines Day and so on.

These focus themes also don’t go any further, they just appear as words on your monthly calendar. This planner is littered with quotes and Trigg comments, and yet at a point when I would have thought some guidance would be necessary, it doesn’t appear.

Annual Forecast pages.

My first note is that the annual forecast pages appear after the monthly calendars splitting the meat of this planner, the monthly and daily pages. I think this section should have gone before the monthly section and keep all the themes and big thinking pages together.

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The aim of these pages again comes back to Self, Relationships, Passions and Work. You write down your goals for each theme. This is done as a list based on the layout of this page but there is no further prompts. No trigger phrases or questions to guide and push you in your thinking and planning process.

The top third of each forecast page has a random assortment of descriptive words that could relate to the theme. Again I think this is for guidance and inspiration but I don’t really think they’re needed and they take up valuable space.

Weekly Priority Planning.

There is a page which kicks off each week. Again the 4 themes come into play here and you write your goal to tackle that week and the actions to help you get there. I am not sure I have a goal for 52 weeks of the year on all 4 of these sections. That feels out of reach entirely.

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The weekly planning though is a good idea and one I like, but I don’t think this page is the right execution of that idea. There is no space for goals that sit outside of the 4 themes either which feels limiting. There is no space for general weekly tasks, such as calling the vet, arranging your car service etc. These don’t fit into the 4 themes but they’re typically things you need to jot down in your planner as general reminders.

Daily pages.

We then come to the real meat of this planner - the daily pages. There is a quote or a Trigg point that heads up each day.

In the top half of the page there is a task, plan and delegation grid to help guide your day. Tasks gives you space for three must do items. There is a box named plan which I am little unsure how to use and then delegate / delay section. The delay / delegate section is interesting but I am not sure how to use this. I don’t think at the start of the day I would know what I want to delay, or whether this is a section that can be filled in at the end of the day and used for future reference? I think it’s an interesting addition to the daily spread but I really don’t know how to implement it.

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The second half of the page is for your appointments. I think the space allocated is too much. I don’t have appointments each day and most of my appointments are captured on my monthly spread. Obviously the headers can be ignored and general notes can be made here.

One other small note, is that Saturday and Sunday don’t get the same layout as the weekdays. They share a page and have none of the daily page features. The weekend days always gets shafted when it comes to space in planners which leaves the weekend workers, or the side-hustle people without the space they need.

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There is a small weekly reflective slot that is included on the weekend pages too, limiting the space even more. This prompts you to reflect on your week and write down something you’re grateful for. There is also the inclusion of some of the map artwork from Mapper theme that comes up on these pages. Everything on this last page feels too tight and squished.

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End of Year Review.

At the end of the planner there are some review pages for the year. There’s another Visual Assessment where you can rate yourself on your 4 pre-set themes. You’re then guided into a double page spread review by themes where you can note the successes and set backs for the year.

There are also a few Notes pages at the back of the planner if you need them.

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My personal thoughts.

I’ve alluded to my thoughts throughout the write up and have tried to not sound harsh but objective with this review. I realise that a planner cannot please or work for everyone but I think there is a lot which could have been improved upon in this planner.

Firstly I was shocked when this planner arrived by how big it is. It’s a very bulky planner, which means it’ll be heavy to carry around and would be uncomfortable to write in with such a huge ledge. I appreciate this is a page a day planner, but there are alternatives out there that are a lot slimmer.

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The mapping theme is good for a planner and I can see why Trigg used this. The use of the mapping artwork doesn’t feel right throughout the planner however. This is a really small thing, but subtler tones (even though grey is used a lot), better quality artwork and thought on the placement and use of the theme would have lifted this planner a lot.

The thought behind the daily pages is a step in the right direction. It guides your day and tries to focus the attention on doing the important things. However in order to focus on the top 3 things for that day I need somewhere to dump the master list, and I think that is what’s missing. The monthly calendars and weekly planning pages don’t give me the space to do this because they’re trying to force me to focus on 4 themes I didn’t choose and potentially don’t care about.

Rethinking the weekly planning pages would help a lot. Some guidance here is fine but I need to space to use these pages as I see fit. And this is likely to change over the course of a year too. Moving the goals and aims piece into the monthly spread would also mean I can focus on more manageable goals in a more manageable period of time.

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Overall thoughts.

I think a productivity planner that isn’t aimed at a corporate person needs to be more than the obvious. Its needs to open up to creative professions, to the side-hustle people, to those who seek out the planners. It has to have a different mindset behind it to really help people be productive.

At the moment I can’t see past the Trigg Life Mapper as some sort of HR self assessment form that I am forced to complete in order to get my bonus. It’s something I go through physical strain to do racking my brain for some nominal thing to include under a header I don’t believe in.

I thought this planner was going to be something more than it was. In part I think I formed these preconceived ideas based on the awards it has won and the social media influences I have, but I can’t help but feel a little disappointed with the Trigg Life Mapper.

I would like to thank the guys at Trigg for sending me their planner to review.

Foyles A5 Hardbound Notebook Review

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Folyes sent me one of their new hardbound A5 notebooks to test and review here on the blog. All thoughts expressed in this review are entirely my own.

I wasn’t aware that Foyles had their own range of stationery items so it was a very nice surprise when they contacted me asking if I’d like to check out their new A5 notebook. Folyes has always represented quality to me and their stores have a good range of stationery items, so I had high hopes for this notebook.

Design.

There are four different colour options available with this notebook but for this review I opted for the Blush version. It has a hardbound cover with a geometric design. The cover design continues onto the inside with more flare. With the Blush notebook there is a sort of blue chevron design with some hot pink foiling.

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The notebook is ruled with a light grey ink on cream coloured paper. Personally I enjoy using paper which is off-white or cream as I think it’s less harsh.

The ruling in these notebooks doesn’t run the full width of the page but leaves a small boarder around the side. The ruling width is good giving you plenty of room if you have larger handwriting.

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Each page is numbered, however there is no index at the front of the notebook which kind of makes this addition a little less functional.

Finally there is a thin ribbon style bookmark in a hot pink to match the foiling on the front of the notebook.

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Using the notebook and paper quality.

The design of a notebook is important. Quality materials and a strong design always make them far more appealing but really the paper quality is the selling point. It’s no use having a gorgeous notebook if the paper is poor.

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With the Foyles notebook I tested out a range of different writing tools I would typically use everyday to see what it could take. This ranged from fountain pens, pencils, drawing pens, gel pens and liquid ink pens. The performance was mixed. The fountain pens feathered and bled quite a bit. More than I am comfortable with or would be happy using. The paper is 100gsm and should be able to handle the fountain pens a little better.

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With the feathering came some show through which again I would expect. This doesn’t bother me too much personally but it’s worth noting.

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All the other tools worked well. Pencils were nice on the page, their glided over the paper so there was very little tooth. Drawing pens and liquid ink pens were nice too. Gel pens were a little scratchy but I find that a lot with these types of pen and paper combos.

I did also throw a Copic marker at the paper too to see what happened and as expected there was loads of bleed through.

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Overall thoughts.

The style and design of these notebooks is nice. The hardbound covers feel traditional and sturdy, perhaps a little too much. They add bulk to the notebook and don’t exactly make it slim line. I can see people being attracted to the design and colour schemes chosen and honestly I don’t think you’d be super disappointed if you were to receive this notebook as a gift. However I think it falls short in a few areas and for a similar price point at £12.99 I think there are better alternatives available.

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However despite all this I think it’s great that there are more British companies and brands producing paper products.

Thank you again to Foyles for sending me over their notebook to review.