#spellitjuly

I can't tell you how excited I am about the upcoming year because of the upcoming releases of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find it. It's a good time to be a Harry Potter fan. Beyond just really enjoying reading these books, Harry Potter has a really special meaning because of when they came into my life. My family immigrated to Canada from Taiwan when I was seven years old, it was a serious shock. Nothing I had known was the same. I had to make new friends, go to a new school, learn a new language in a new country. A huge part of my learning English is because of reading Harry Potter. Not only that, it was like a source of comfort in a very lonely period of my life. I've reread these books a lot over the last few years and these recall so many happy memories. 

With all of that preamble, this post is to introduce the challenge I'm issuing this July.  I've made a list of spells from the Harry Potter books.

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This will be starting on July 7, the most magically powerful number, and ending the day before the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I'm will eagerly be waiting in line at midnight for my copy. It's been years since I've been to a midnight release!

Here the challenge:

1. take inspiration from these prompts to do some calligraphy, handlettering, doodle, creative writing - whatever your favourite medium is! 

2. Post a photo on social media with the tag #spellitjuly.  

That's it!

I always love these challenges because it's amazing to see all the different things people come up with given the same prompt. 

On the topic of burnout

By now you may have noticed that I have not posted on this blog for several months. The longer I did not post, the more anxiety I felt over not having posted. Every time I tried to write a post, it felt inorganic. The writing felt stiff and forced, and the topics I wanted to talk about felt worn or even overdone. It wasn’t just the blog. Even on Instagram, my output has significantly slowed. I don’t really have any excuses for it. After months of putting up at least a post a day on IG, I guess I just felt burned out in general. Not because the blog and the Instagram took up a ton of my time, but just that nothing felt new anymore.

At a certain point, I realized I just need to take a break until I was not only ready, but excited to share again.

Burn out wasn’t the only factor in this break. Like I have said in many places, I reached a pen collection plateau. I am very happy with everything I own and nothing is really catching my eye - not enough to spend my limited budget at least. It feels like a lot of stationery blogs are sustained by constantly accumulating getting new stuff to review. Because I haven't gotten anything new in so long, it made me feel at a loss for what to post. 

What's more, I realized that I really dislike reviewing product. I like to talk about product that I love and I like talking about how I use the stuff, but reviewing stuff for the sake of reviewing it is not really my thing. For this reason, I think I need to reconsider what kind of content I want to post and be much more thoughtful about it.

With the Pen Addict podcast discussing this topic the last couple of weeks, it’s been on my mind a lot. I’m not committing to posting regularly in this post, but I think I just needed to rip off the band aid. Put up a post and maybe the rest will follow.

And since this is still a pen and stationery blog, here are some photos of the last pen that caught my eye – a Kaweco Liliput in Copper:

 

Sunrise at the cottage

Sunrise at the cottage

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Did y'all catch the Game of Throne finale? 😭 

Did y'all catch the Game of Throne finale? 😭 

Inks that Sheen: Sailor Oku-Yama Review

A huge thank you to Ron over at Pen Chalet for sending me this bottle for review. Get one for yourself here: Sailor Oku-Yama.

I've been obsessed with inks that sheen lately. This bottle of Sailor Oku-Yama was no different. I've had it on my wishlist as soon as I saw photos of it's weird green outline on Instagram.  

I'm going to preface this post by saying that the scope of this review is limited by design. I don't really care how long an ink takes to dry, or if it'll survive being drowned. 

I care if an ink is interesting. 

Sailor Oku-Yama swab and bottle

Sailor Oku-Yama is definitely interesting.

It's a rich burgundy ink. The shade different enough from a standard red to not evoke memories of school, but not too off the wall that you can't use it everyday. Still not exactly "work appropriate", but perfect for personal journalling and notetaking. It's an absolutely gorgeous colour. 

Look at that amount of green that comes through on the swab!

In order to talk about sheen, I have to acknowledge that it seems to be the source of frustration for some because they just can't seem to get the same crazy results as they see in photos. There were more than a couple of r/fountainpens threads, for example, from folks back when Emerald of Chivor first came out who thought they had received a defective bottle with well meaning comments advising to shake the bottle more.

Here's the thing: sheen is a fickle thing and paper matters.  A combination of a very wet nib and paper with a good coating is necessary. What this means is basically even popular fountain pen friendly papers may not coax sheen out of ink. 

Left is Emerald of Chivor on Rhodia paper, right is the same on Tomoe River.

I found Oku-Yama's sheen very subtle largely because it very wet ink  generally. It wasn't dry to the point that it was unbareable or causing railroading or anything.

What the dryness meant though was that not enough ink was being laid down for dramatic pooling necessary for obvious sheen. 

It actually performed well even in my pickiest pen - the CH912 with the FA nib. This was different from the experience Matt from the Pen Habit had, saying that he experienced a lot of flow problems with this combination. However, I actually wrote half a letter without any sort of issue with this ink.

 [I did have a lot of railroading issues with the CH912 with all inks when I was using the con-70 converter (which I detest), and had 0 problems since I switched over to refilling a cartridge. This is a possible explanation for that difference.]

When the pen is first uncapped it down lay down pretty dark and wet, but it evens out to its usual pleasant shade of pomegranate. This image below shows a bit of that gradient effect happening. 

Written with a Pilot Custom Heritage 912 with an FA nib.

 When put in direct comparison with one of my favourite sheening inks, Sailor Yama-Dori, Oku-Yama's effects were quite subtle. 

Where Sailor Yama-Dori glows red, Sailor Oku-Yama is just outlined in green.

All in all, a great ink for the collection: a lovely colour ink with subtle sheening properties. While I think the colour is much more standout than its sheening qualities, but it's a nice bonus. It's one I am very happy to cross of the wishlist. 

In case you wanted to read reviews where they actually tested the ink:

I'm writing a French word a day over on my Instagram - check out #fourfiftydeuxchallenge :)


Snail Mail Love and a P.O. Box

It's almost the end of February and I've had an absolute blast with InCoWriMo. Admittedly, I still have a backlog of "to be written" longer than the Rideau Canal, but it was more than enough proof to me that this is something I should do more often. So this post is to draw your attention to a new feature on this site- the Snail Mail tab. 

On that page, you'll find a map with all the places I've sent and received map from. And - the keys are fresh out of the... back room of the postal office - you'll also find my P.O. box address!

I got one to test drive for 3 months, so if you wanted to send me a letter, I solemnly pinky promise to respond!

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Hope to hear from you,

Heidi

P.S. Check on this new FPR Jaipur flex I just got. Review up soon?

How I use my Hobonichi Techo

There's no more gorgeous paper for writing with fountain pens than Tomoe River Paper. This is the year and a bit's worth of paper that you get with a Hobonichu Techo. Super thin, super ink resistant and super smooth. It not only is able to handle fountain pen ink, it brings out the best in it, showing off sheen like no other paper.

The page per day is minimalist in design, inviting creativity. As a bonus, it was picked up this year by JetPens in the States and WonderPens in Canada. Previously, they could only be ordered directly from Japan.

This is the larger A5 size that I used for 2015.

Last year, I had a Hobonichi Cousin, but I found the pages far too large. I don't use it like an art journal as some brilliant people do on Instagram. It didn't make sense for my needs and I rarely used it. 

This year, I got the smaller A6 size that fits well in hand. I am housing it in this lovely Harris Tweed A6 size cover from Esplanade London.

I've committed myself to use it as my daily journal. Lots of people use it to plan as well; I've seen some awesome bullet journal setups in the Hobonichi. 

On December 16, the Hobonichi started with 2 days a day. 

I really liked having small drawings to add a pop of colour contrasting with the black text. Putting the drawings and text in before I journal is really helpful in getting over blank page syndrome. I don't find myself stare at the page, afraid to ruin the pristine blank space, overwhelmed by expectations for what could be written. 

I've actually been a bit boring lately with my pen and ink choice. My constant everyday carry has been my matte black Pilot Vanishing Point with J. Herbin Perle Noire. All of the text in my Hobonichi is usually written in print, and in black. There's nothing wrong with either of them, but there's a distinct lack of lack of adventure in a black pen and black in. However, they are a nice and reliable pair I can always count on.

I have been inspired to do something different occassionally. I did this spread using my contrast colour to journal and black to write my quote. The ink is Iroshizuku Yu-Yake which is a deliciously bright orange colour with some amazing shading. I've had the ink sample for forever, but I've never had a use for orange ink. 

Inking the orange up has shown me that I might discover some things I love if I step outside my colour comfort zone. I have always avoided orange inks because it, like yellow and pink, always seemed too bright to be legible. This is a very strong orange that's, well, like a punch in the face. It's a beautiful contrast with the gross winter weather in Ottawa. It's -15 degrees celsius without wind chill today!

I've been using the Hobonichi to house my lettering challenges which is a bit easier than coming up with a fresh saying everyday. I'm currently doing the #letteritjanuary challenge. Occasionally, I do have a quote that I really want to have in my book.

This "Be Brave" one below is an example. 

I'm feeling slightly overwhelmed by the semester coming up as I'm starting my 4th year classes at university. I will have to repeat this mantra through the next 4 months. I'm simultaneously excited and terrified because of high expectations and unfamiliar types of assessments. 

One example is a case competition: we'll have 2 hours to prepare a response to a hypothetical emergency, after which time we're suppose to give  briefing with policy recommendations to a panel. It's more common in business schools than public administration schools, but they've really been pushing practical experience the last few years. 

I really love things that show signs that you've used it. The thinness of the paper in the Hobonichi techo means that even adding washi tape starts bulking up the pages. Seeing images of the hobonichi that have grown into the size of the brick inspired me to take a "before" and "after" shot as a mark of the memories stored inside after 365 + 15 days. Watch for the after in January of next year!

Thanks for reading! Let me know: what are you using to journal this year?

 

Goodbye 2015: A Pen Year in Review and a Resolution

It's been one of the most exciting years of growth and learning in every aspect of my life.  I became truly independent this year. Even though I moved across the country almost 3 years ago, I think I fully came into my own this year. I traveled some, I made some big decisions, I moved 3 times, I reached a full year at my current job. I dove headfirst back into a lifelong love for stationery.  

My pen journey really began in March. When I placed order on my first fountain pen - a blue Lamy Safari - I had no idea of the rabbit hole I would be sent down. 

March 23, 2015

March 23, 2015

It sounds a bit cheesy, but the discovery of fountain pens has lead to a ton of personal growth. It's really inspired me to pursue pen related habits like planning and bullet journalling, journalling, and calligraphy. It has also given me an outlet and a community as I began blogging and instagramming. I really have to thank everyone I've met this year for making it a wonderful one.

 Speaking of outlets, I'm absolutely blown away by the support and love from the IG community - I actually hit 4000 followers just after midnight! Here's my 9 most liked photos from this year:

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And check out the difference in my handwriting from April compared to now:

(Also it's super funny to read some of the review I wrote at the beginning when I was sampling every ink under the sun :P)

It's been a good year in terms of getting involved in this community, but it hasn't always been the easiest year personally. I have problems with anxiety, and it's been a big year of change as I started in a new role at work, had one of my toughest year academically and struggled with motivation.  I think having this hobby has really anchored me and given me routine. Whenever I was feeling down, I could always take some quiet time with pen and paper whether that was practicing calligraphy, or penning a journal entry. 

My Midori Traveler's Notebook and Hobonichi Techo

My Midori Traveler's Notebook and Hobonichi Techo

Now that the past is out of the way, reality does have to rear it's head in the future. 2015 was an enormous year was accumulation. All of my stashes are far beyond what I can use in a single life time.  So I'm making you all my accountability partners in my new years resolution. This year my stationery resolution is to shop my collection. 

The goal is twofold. First to use what I already have instead of constantly purchasing new things. This isn't a cold turkey, swearing off purchases for good. I think that would be setting myself up for disappointment. This is a conscious effort to fully appreciate the pieces which make up my collection.

I think as part of this, I will go through my collection and give each piece a feature. This means some old things may get some new reviews on this blog in the coming months. 

The effort to do this will come with a lot of reflection too. In this effort I will discover somethings I rarely use and actually will not use. I will give them another chance, but I have to be prepared to let them go if it's not meant to be. I have a bad habit of hoarding things even if I don't need them because of the possibility that I might need them in a hypothetical future situation. 

Last year was the year of "accumulation", this year will be the year of "use". 

Thanks a lot for reading and I hope you have a very happy New Year!

P.S. Let me know: What are your stationery resolutions for this year?

Switching to SquareSpace

Hey friends, I've been very frustrated with the (lack of) functionality of WordPress for a while now. After a slight fiasco with my website URL redirecting certain people to porn, I've decided to make the jump. 

I'm very excited for this new platform. I've changed basically nothing about my site aesthetically, but it all just looks a little bit sleeker. So this is just a quick post to let you all know what has happened. It should not have any big impact unless you are relying on the Wordpress subscription feature for new blog posts. 

Thanks for reading!

Planning in a Midori Traveler's Notebook

I swore by the Leuchtturm 1917 notebook, but 2/3 through my third, the dissatisfaction I was feeling with my system surfaced.

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I found the "all in one book" idea of the original bullet journal chaotic. The A5 size book too wide for me, I am a linear planner. I write straight down the page and I never go back to make use of the right hand side. The blank space made it look and feel incomplete.

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Over the summer, I had purchased a Midori Traveler's Notebook cover from Amazon, but as my notebook stash far exceeds my life expectancy, it languished unused in a drawer. I loved the idea of the MTN.

The brown leather of the original is known for taking on scratches, and stains, and oils from the skin. Over time, it develops a patina that tells a story of experience and adventure. It pushes the embrace of the beauty in that which is imperfect, inconstant, and incomplete - the wabi-sabi.

 

At it's core, it's just leather cover with an elastic through the middle. Admittedly, once you say it like this, it sounds quite pricey for what it is.

So I will mention that there are quite a few lower priced alternatives on Etsy. Many of which have more than one elastic which would require less fiddling with elastics. Many are in sizes that allow for non-proprietary notebooks like the Field Notes size, which will accept any stand 3.5x5 notebook you'll find anywhere.

My first cover was actually this brown FN sized Pelledori from PelleStudio on Etsy which I took with me on my recent trip to Ireland.

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But I love the simplicity of the original.

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This idea of picking back up the Midori as my bullet journal percolated for a few weeks, until finally I decided to make the jump. First, I found some graph paper insert that were bulk priced and also fountain pen friendly.

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I picked these inserts up from Traveler's Times on Etsy. They were around $2 per book, but had quite a hefty shipping cost. It was a flat rate however and because she threw in 2 free books on top of the 8 I purchased, it worked out to about $3.90 per book, which is more than half of what Midori inserts cost here in Canada.

I suspect the paper is simply a thick (at least 28lb) laserjet paper  which does take fountain pens fairly well. Which mean if I had a printer, I could maybe just make my own inserts, but that's a lot of hassle...

I like the thickness of the page and it is relatively smooth. Colours are a bit flat on it and it's certainly more absorbent than Leuchtturm, Rhodia, Clairefontaine, etc. It does show off shading however in a very wet pen, but it's not the beautiful gradient you'll see on nicer paper. All in all, I wouldn't use it to show off my most intersting ink, but it's pretty good for the price I paid.

My Setup

The two main pieces in my dashboard are my legend (so I don't have to rewrite it for every book) and my Morning checklist to remind me of the things I need to bring with me.

I have three books in my MTN. They are:

  1. Planning Book
  2. My Collections
  3. Currently Inked/Calligraphy/Doodling

Book 1

This image was the first real spread I had ever posted on Instagram - the reason being, I was finally at peace with my system for the first time.

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Pictured is my daily spread. I follow the original bullet journal with minimal decorative modifications. I use my trusty Pilot Vanishing Point inked with my black ink of the moment - J. Herbin Perle Noire - and a contrast colour. So far I've gone with some Diamine Golden Sands and Diamine Marine as the contrast colour.

(there is some bleed through on the monthly spread, third picture, because I had coloured in heavily with ink)

I don't do anything like a weekly spread or anything. This the book serves the purpose of short term planning and I mainly write in what will pertain to either that day or the next day. Any future planning is done inside my Filofax (post to come).

Three things in here that are more long term are my schedule, meal plan, and monthly spread, but I keep them there because they do serve a daily purpose. The one change I might make is moving my meal plan into the Filofax; I only really need the grocery list that is generated from the meal plan.

My routine is to set up the night before. I first look at all the tasks for the day and either check it off, migrate it to the next day, or schedule it for the future (Filofax). Then I prepare for the next day by drawing the flag for the date, the weather doodle, and a list of events and tasks (based on the my future planning book/monthly spread) for the next day. Throughout the day, I add notes and new to-dos, using the book as a brain dump which will be processed at the end of the day.

Book 2 

This book houses all my collections because I add to them whenever something pops into my head. I don't often use this for productivity purposes so most of the lists are fun things such as wish lists and my book/TV queues.

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However, I made a very useful addition recently which is my "16 in 2016" list. This is a list of 16 goals I have for myself in the next year. Many of these are private, however, so I won't be sharing a photo.

My big focuses for next year is to make improvements on the foundations I laid this year. Some of my goals include writing more often on my blog, look back on my school year with pride, contribute more to the rainy day fund, go outside more, and "shop my collection".

The last one is very key. I think this process of continual accumulation of stuff, as much as I joke about how my stash of thing exceed my life expectancy does hit a point where it seems like buy for the sake of buying. In the next year, I am planning on doing more with the things I already have rather than getting more "things".

A subgoal is to finally use up a bottle of ink........

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Book 3

This book is my doodling/fountain pen tracker. I use it to do calligraphy on the go and my currently inked pens.

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And that's pretty much it.

I like the narrower pages much better to use up space fully. I like the smell and feel of the leather cover. I like the separation between short term and long term planning that allows me plenty of room in an A5 filofax without having to lug it around every day. I like having three separate books so there's a lot less flipping back and forth to find particular pages. After two weeks of using this system, I can't imagine doing it any other way.

Thanks for reading until the end!

Let me know: what is your system of planning? What planner are you using for 2016?

The Importance of Paper and Cocoa Daisy Inserts

I haven't done any paper reviews on this blog. The main reason is I don't get too adventurous in the realm of paper. It's the most difficult of the pen-paper-ink trifecta to find something that works, so you stick to the tried and true. So I don't see that point of adding yet another Clairefontaine, Rhodia, Tomoe River, Leuchtturm, etc review when they are already well known to be fountain pen friendly paper. Despite this, one of the things I often hear people say is they they wish they had known more about the importance of paper when they started out in fountain pens. 

The problem is that most paper these days aren't made for fountain pen usage*.

*in North America

In the last few weeks, I've been interested in planners and planner inserts because I've been feeling the need to keep a more structured paper planner. I decided to go with a ring-bound system + bullet journal combo for the year. In my search for my 2016 planner, I had a hard time finding information about what was and wasn't fountain pen friendly. Tons of companies advertised "good quality" paper and that was all.

At best, I saw paper advertised by thickness; at worst, the paper is not addressed at all. This is fine, if the concern is just with whether or not there will be bleed through. But as anyone who've experienced Tomoe River paper can tell you, thickness isn't everything (cough). Besides, this standard of judgement says nothing about one of my favourite things about fountain pen ink - their ability to show off sheen or shading.

Fountain pen friendly paper has several criteria:

  1. Absorbancy
  2. Thickness
  3. Smoothness

Fountain pens use water based inks. These three factors really change the behaviour of ink on the paper. To show off qualities of shading or sheeening, the paper needs to be slightly non-absorbent - ink should dry on top of the paper rather than soak into it. The smoothness of the paper may determine the the ease of use - if the paper is too fibrous instead of smooth, nib tines may snag and the feed may get clogged.

All of these factors work together to make a paper pleasant to use and can bring out the full potential of fountain pen ink.

Just to show you the difference the paper makes, here's a side by side of two fountain pen friendly papers. Tomoe River paper on the right is much more unaborbent compared to Rhodia resulting in ink pooling and drying on top of the page. In certain inks that have a sheening quality, this becomes a very dramatic glow when light hits paper. While they both handle the ink without bleedthrough or feathering, they have vastly different impact on the behaviour of the inks.

After all of that preamble, I will get to the point. I was curious about how popular planner inserts hold up to the ink test. Many of them are called "good quality" papers by the fans of the product and sometimes by the companies, but I rarely find much to substantiate it.

The first inserts I decided to put to the test is one month of inserts from Cocoa Daisy.

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I thought it a shame to leave a beautiful dark aqua Filofax unused and frankly, I wanted to try them because they're really, really pretty. I could find very little information regarding what paper is used to print this insert except for reviews stating that they're "good".

I've always loved the designs on the Cocoa Daisy, but it's hard to justify the price of the year round subscription. Since I was only tiding myself over for a month, $17 CAD after shipping was a bit easier to swallow (but even then...) than a potential $205 for a year long subscription.

As a cat lady at heart (darn allergies...), these cats on the December design really spoke to me on a deep level. However, there were more layouts than I actually can think of a use for. I don't really see a need for two different types of weekly spreads and daily pages on top of that. I can't imagine being able to use up one or the other in 1 month let alone if I had a subscription for 12 months. The benefit here is that they are undated so they can be used at any point in time.

Now for the ink test... now I was not too expectant that this would be showing off sheen or shading. I was more hoping that it would not bleed, feather, or ghost.

On the week on 1 pages, the colored background was printed onto the page and on the other two style of inserts, there were splashes of colours printed onto the page. The coloured portions were a bit like writing on aborbent glossy paper. The ink beaded on top of the page like it didn't want to be there. Then it absorbed in flatly. The letters look blotchy.

This meant the week on 1 page was less than usable. With very wet nibs, it bled through to the other side and left a mark on the next page while dulling and fading the colour. With a finer nibs, there was less bleed and ghosting, but it also dried a very dull and faded colour.

I gave the week on 1 page away to my roommate already. She's been trying to find cute inserts for her planner and she liked the paint chip look.

The other two layouts wrote very similarly since they did not have colours printed where you wrote. The week on two pages had it in a couple of spots for a splash of colour. The coated part worked just as well as it did in the week on one page - a weird splotchy looking situation.

Not having the ink over top definitely helped performance. There is still some ghosting and bleed on some of the pens, but definitely workable. Since I generally prefer Japanese fine and extra fine which are much finer than their western counterparts (ex. germany EF = Japanese F, etc) which lay down much less ink than broads/stubs/flex nibs, this is still not a complete deal breaker. 

Overall, I love the beautiful colours and cute cat designs all over the page. I have no idea how I will use all these different styles of layout, and there's no way I will end use the dailies. My days are so variable that the set categories they have for "schedule", "must do", "to do", "call", and "hydrate" are quite restrictive and will rarely be used.  Additionally, these inserts are rather expensive as they are a monthly commitment of $17 CAD, but even for the the Americans theses are much more than typical yearly long inserts. 

The paper is pleasant and smooth to the touch and doesn't snag nib tines as you write. While I would not recommend these to fountain pen users as FP friendly paper, they may be cute enough to make some sacrifices to use. Beyond that, I'm not expecting companies to cater to such a niche market. This is a paper that is at or even above average that works well for their main audience - and it'll work fine with the right pairing of fine nib and well behaved ink. 

 

 

 

 

In My Pen Roll: Sapphire, Ireland, Scriptus Recap, and things to come

This week's load out features a few special things: two new inks and a new pen.

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About a month ago, I was browsing for some Parker Penman Sapphire on a whim. There wasn't much on eBay, but I noticed a listing on the French eBay site with some words misspelled and written en francais. 

Friends, I've had state mandated French classes for the entire duration of my public school life - and that day it paid off.

(Just kidding, I love French, and I work in Quebec :P)

The ad with a photo of a ratty looking box said something along the lines of shitty looking box, unopened bottle of ink. I paraphrased, but that was enough for me to put down a bid of.... $25 with shipping.

I thought there was no way that I would win the auction.

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I'm trying to cut down on the number of pens I keep inked. Being honest, I only use 1 or 2 of them while the others just sit. So the Pilot Vanishing Point Raden Galaxy and Pelikan M400 White Tortoise have now been decommissioned. I'll miss them because they've both been in use since I received them, but they've received a place of honour in my new pen and ink cabinet:

I'm also trying to give the Lamy 2000 the love it deserves this week. I love the way it writes, but because it's just not as sexy as the others it often gets sidelined. This week with a few less pens loaded, it's finally going to have its day in the sun.

I've loaded it up with Diamine Blue Velvet - a gorgeous blue with a red sheen. I chose this ink because when I first got the Penman Sapphire, this was the colour it reminded me of most. Because of the cost of the Sapphire ink, I've been pondering whether or not it was worth obtaining a bottle, or if a modern ink has been able to fill the hole its discontinuance left behind.

More investigation still needed. Diamine Blue Velvet was both darker and leaned purple.

Of course, I can't forget the other special ink in the line up this week: KWZ Maple Red. It was a exclusive to the Scriptus Toronto Pen Show and they sold like hot cakes.

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The Last Few Weeks

It's been a full couple of weeks. I had the best time of my life in Ireland, spending 8 packed full days going from

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to

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to

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Some of highlights of the trip were the lovely town of Cobh (pronouced cove!), Blarney Castle, the castle we stayed in, and the Cliffs of Moher - if you're interested, here's a link to those photos.

And much sooner than I had hoped, I flew back to Toronto in time for Scriptus 2015. I only spent a few hours there, but it was wonderful to see so much enthusiasm for fountain pens. Sometimes I think I've been duped by the online community into thinking there are a lot of us, but happily, I was proven wrong and that room was jam packed!

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There was everything from KWZ Ink, all the way from Poland (and the two sweetest people ever who put up with my photos and ink questions!)

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(Konrad, there on the right, was responsible for the special Scriptus 2015 exclusive Maple Red ink that made everyone go wild and was gone within minutes of being set out.)

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 to Kaweco,

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to vintage treasures

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to something new that I've been looking forward to - the Retro Pop Pilot Metropolitans!

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I picked up the teal one which was #1 on my list, but the orange one has caught my eye as well. Let me know, what is your favourite new Retro Pop colour?

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I couldn't stay too long because I am very anxious around crowds and strangers. However, I don't get to go down to Toronto often enough to waste it. I decided that I would finally, finally visit the *wonderful* people at Wonder Pens.

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John was very patient and put up with our nonsense for a bit longer than he needed I think, but it was awesome to finally put some 3D faces to name and photo. And especially if they provide tea and egg tarts too! :)

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Things to Come

It's also that time of year when I'm starting to rethink the way I've organized myself. This isn't the place to get into too many details, but I've decided to go with duo of the

A6 Hobonichi Techo

and an A5 dark aquamarine Filofax (which just arrived today :D).

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My Hobo is housed in this gorgeous tweed cover from

Esplanade London

. It's absolutely adorable and it looks much warmer and cozier than I will be once the real Ottawa winter hit. 

Send warm thoughts! 

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This Filo is gorgeous and rich dark aquamarine colour - which in spite of its name - I had expected to be a much lighter.

I may go into more details about how I've set them up and plan to use them at the end of the year, or first few months of the next. For now, they're just wonderful to admire and imagine myself as a hyper efficient organized machine with them in hand.

And one last note, according to my tracking number, I should be getting something of the Japanese variety in the mail. It'll be the first pen I own from this brand. Any guesses to what it is? Of course, I will promise in trepidation based on my lack of ability to post regularly in the past, a review of that pen once it does arrive and after customs has emptied out my wallet even more.

For now, thanks for reading!

Pages Update

This is just a quick update to draw your attention to the pages on the menu bar. There are currently 3 features:

  1. Wishlist - all the pen/ink/paper goodness that I'm drooling over
  2. Recommendation - just some good starting points for pens based on price range; this may be updated soon, I'm thinking of sorting it by "use cases" rather than by price.
  3. Current Collection - all the pens in my collection at the moment

Thanks for reading :)

In My Pen Roll: New Pen Roll, Brown Ink, Scriptus, and NaNoWriMo

I've been neglectful of this blog. The main reason is that I don't really have any reviews pending because well, that would require me to purchase things. I don't want this blog to become dormant though, so I'm thinking of adding some posts which are much shorter and more photo based. So here is what's in my pen case this week. This post will be posted on Saturdays when enough of a change occurs in my carries to merit it. It'll also be an opportunity for me to share any updates and exciting upcoming events.

At the beginning of this last week I received something wonderful in the mail that I order from Elizabeth Newton. I'm a huge Doctor Who fan and I could not say no when I saw the Exploding TARDIS design.

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The top flap folds down to tuck all my pen friends in snugly. This was actually something I was looking for as the leather pen roll I was looking for had a bad habit of letting my pens fall out.

Definitely give Elizabeth a look, she's making some pretty cool looking rolls and purses. Examples of her work can be found on her Instagram: @e_newton_designs.

So on with the pens.

I've been completely obsessed with brown inks lately, I now own three bottles and counting, but this week, I found a definitely favourite in the Cafe des Iles. It's a gorgeous reddy-brown and it shades spectacularly.

This ink smells funny, not unpleasant in the first place, I don't think, but I have it inked up so often I'm actually starting to like the smell.

Upcoming

So it's nearing the end of October and for me that very exciting for 2 reasons. First, I will be heading to Ireland for an 8 day jaunt around the island during my university's reading week. I will be bringing some stationery stuff with me, so my Instagram account should still be active during my trip, featuring different back drops, so make sure to follow me over there :)

Then in perfectly timed fashion, I will be landing back in Toronto on October 31, just in time for the Toronto Pen Show on Nov. 1!  I am beyond excited for this event and it's going to be a fantastic opportunity to meet some real life pen folks. Check out this interview Liz at Wonder Pens did with one of the organizer for a hint of what's to come. And of course, check out their event website as well.

Lastly, and it sneaks up on me every year, NaNoWriMo is almost here. If you don't know, it's a yearly challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. I won twice back in my high school days, but it's been a couple of years since I've done it. I'm thinking of participating this year with modified goal so I can handwrite my novel. I will either do 4 or 5 handwritten pages a day or the "fill up a notebook" challenge.

Let me know: Are any of you participating? Anyone planning on using some fountain pens to bang out a novel?

Afterthoughts: Lamy 2000

This is part deux of my anniversary presents. I was very emotional in receiving it in addition to the Raden Vanishing Point. This was a pen that I meant to buy for myself as a Christmas present - and I had said that to him. It was very sweet, and perhaps much more than I feel I should have received from him. This post has been planned for a while, but I've rewritten it several times over. I think I'm trying too hard to make this post splashy when the pen demands simplicity.

The Lamy 2000 is understated, timeless, sleek, and a joy to write with.

It is simultaneously an nondescript black pen and quintessentially Lamy 2000.

The Makrolon finish out of the box was not quite black. When slipped inside my leather case, it actually developed some discolouration. The discolouration disappears as soon as I rubbed my fingers over it. It is apparently a result of the brushing process; tiny fibres are left over and in the groves of the finish.

I think rubbing it up against suede push a whole bunch into one area. A microfibre cloth is suggested by Lamy to get rid of it. It doesn't really bother me that much since I know it isn't permanent.

This is actually a feature of the pen. The brushed steel hides signs of wear and develops a patina that  darkens the pen over time. Eventually, the groves will be smoothed out and polished.

Truly, it is a pen made to last.

It has a snap cap, which like the Pilot Vanishing Point, allows quick deployment.

My only regret is the bulge-y look in the middle. Capped, the clean lines and curves of the pen is interrupted. It looks a bit like a slender mushroom. But that can't be helped unless a step is added to the grip - that ruins the aesthetic of the body itself.

The ink window seems rather useless. You can't really tell when you're running low, but it's not dark enough when filled to not be noticeable. Again, this pen is all about lines, so I would prefer not to have this visual break.

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I'm not sure if you can tell I'm a big fan of this pen. I really am. But as a liker of shiny things, this isn't the pen I show off. The Raden is the belle of the ball.

But where it lacks in bells and whistles, it makes up for in performance.

Simply, it is one of the smoothest and most enjoyable writing experiences I've ever had. I have an extra fine nib, and it is  as smooth and wet writing. I love watching ink dry on the page.

On the Rhodia pad, there is no feedback. It glides across the page without being slippery.

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Much like the Lamy 2000, it is a non traditional fountain pen in exactly the same way. The big, bold, and beautiful nib is sacrificed for this modern look. It's not one for the traditionalists - but I am not a traditionalist.

I have not experienced a lot of the issues that have been brought up about the 2000. First, that there is a small sweet spot, and second, that the nibs are "inconsistent" out of the box.

The first issue with the sweet spot, I think has more to do with the design of the pen rather the nib . The pen is uniformly shaped  and tapers down to the nib with no guided grip. I found this a bit disconcerting coming from the Pilot Vanishing Point. Without the guided grip, if there is a tendency to roll the pen as you write, it's easy to lose the sweet spot.

The second about nibs inconsistency out of the box - that I cannot speak to. My pen worked without issue and I did not request for it to be checked beforehand. I posed the question to Brian Goulet on his periscope broadcast a few weeks back and he said their team has found very few nibs that don't write out of the box.

I suspect this rumor is due to two things. It is often a "next step" pen and commonly recommended - so a lot of people own this pen as their first expensive pen. 1. With more people, more chances for things to go wrong. 2. Being many people's first/second "expensive" pen, there will be more disappointment when it doesn't work out of the box especially compared to the sub $50 or $100 pens they have just come from - so we hear about it.

Of course, this is my speculation. I bring it up because I've noticed a pattern in the fountain pen community of someone having a problem with their pen getting responses from a few others who experienced the same problem, then a few weeks later that specific problem being stated as a common occurrence. It's not a bad thing to warn others, but sometimes misinformation is accidentally spread.

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Conclusion

This is my choice for $100-$200 pen over the Pilot Vanishing Point for a few reasons:

It is gorgeous but understated. In a world where people rarely pay for pens (they take them from other people's desks.......), or rarely pay more than $10 for 200 of them, flashy is not necessarily a good thing. Like the Vanishing Point, it's a pen that can be gotten away with without the conversation about the fact that you use fountain pens - or being "that person" who carries around the expensive things.

Ink capacity. This is not really a concern for me since I bring a bijillion pens everywhere, but apparently the con-50 and other converters don't really hold much ink. This piston filler boasts an over 2mL capacity.

Third, unless you roll your pen a lot as you write, this pen is much more universally usable. It doesn't have that weird clip getting in your way.  Even if you roll your pen, it's easier to adapt to than having to completely change the way you hold your pen.

Fourth, it can take a beating. The finish is extremely durable. While it's more expensive pen, it doesn't need to be baby-ed in order to retain its looks. It's very practical, for many people, this can easily be the end of the road for fountain pen collecting because it is made to be used and often.

On a personal level, I will still choose the Vanishing Point over the 2000. I like the feeling of fine Japanese nibs, the crisp thin lines they lay down and the light feeling of tooth on the page as I write.

Retailers: Amazon.com | GouletPens.com | WonderPens.ca