Monday, January 1, 2018

the new year brings

This morning I remembered that I still needed to decorate a notebook insert for 2018. I use several inserts in my Midori, but I always like to carry one that is year-specific. So, I was excited to break out the Cotman watercolors I received for Christmas and get started.

I enjoy having quotes or phrases to look at--particularly if they've inspired me at a certain point in time. I was able to include several. They do appear a little eccentric when put together, but I felt that they depicted the way I felt about the previous year...and what I wanted to keep in mind for this one.


"When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be."  Lao Tzu

“I have always had more dread of a pen, a bottle of ink, and a sheet of paper than of a sword or pistol.” ― Alexandre Dumas

“The things you do for yourself are gone when you are gone, but the things you do for others remain as your legacy.” ― Kalu Ndukwe Kalu


I hope that you all have enjoyed the holiday season and make the most out of the new year. As I head back into my old routine, the same remains in my heart.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Review: AsianVintage Traveler's Notebooks

Today I will be reviewing for AsianVintageTN, a shop for handmade traveler's notebooks and journals made with genuine leathers. Run by Len and based in Illinois, it acts as "your source of Asian journals, planners and supplies." 

I was first drawn to these notebooks because of their similarity to the Traveler's Company notebooks (which I still refer to as Midori). I was curious to know how they would hold up. I know that a lot of writers and journalers prefer the genuine and authentic version, but I like the creativity in innovation and design. 

Len was kind enough to send me two notebook covers for review, along with refills. I received the camel and olive standard sized covers, which are currently sold for $27.00 and $35.00, respectively. 

They both arrived without any scratches, but I like to use products for a little while before putting my review in writing. Here are the covers after about two weeks of use.

The first thing I noticed was that both covers were very smooth. The camel was much softer and scuffed very easily. The camel cover had a bit more of a harder feeling to it, and did not scuff as easily. 

The bottom left corner of each back cover was stamped, though using two separate stamps.

Three blank refills, along with a zipper pouch and card slot insert, came with the notebooks. The blank inserts had stitched binding, rounded corners, and off-white paper.

There are the usual tin clasps, though they appear slightly bigger than the one on my Midori and differ in color.

The insides of the camel cover are raw and soft, whereas the olive one is smoother but still harder. Both covers have thinner leather than that used for Midori (Traveler's Company).

Above is a photo I snapped of the packaging when I first received the notebooks in the mail. The cardboard boxes and elastics are all very similar packaging to the Midori. 

I liked the shop's touch of including their own pamphlet in the front. Doesn't it make you want to travel and view nature?

Each notebook cover came in a linen bag, with an extra elastic. I ended up swapping out the main elastics for both covers, which is why the camel cover has the olive elastic and vise versa.

The olive notebook cover has an unnecessarily long elastic bookmark, which I later ended up cutting and knotting in order to match the camel one on the left. This seemed like more of a quality control issue than anything else.

I noticed that the covers appeared larger. After comparing them to my black Midori, I found that they were in fact around half an inch wider. This solves the issue of overhang that a lot of TN users complain about, which often results when one uses more than two inserts in their notebook cover.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by the notebooks and their quality. The leather is thinner, something I didn't personally like. The easily scuffed nature is also something to consider, depending on how fast you like your leather to show wear. For instance, my black Midori shown above has been in use for two years and I like the slow character it is gaining.

Because AsianVintage TNs look so similar to Traveler's Company, they act as a good substitute. If you appreciate their characteristics, I'd urge you to try them out.

Disclosure: I was sent these notebooks in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own, and I was not compensated in any other way. 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Service Women Stamp

The zipper pouch of my traveler's notebook plastic insert houses paper ephemera, such as an old map print and a decorative paper for French men's watches; things that I find interesting. I was able to add this 1952 3c "Service Women" stamp, a deep blue paper that shows women in uniform from the Marines, Army, Navy, and Air Corps.

It's so small in proportion to the size of the insert, but it was something that really touched me. That's why I found it nice to flip open my Midori and have it as one of the first things I look at. Girl power, am I right?

Monday, October 9, 2017

Review: Rossi 1931 Notebooks

Today I will be reviewing for Rossi 1931, an Italian stationery company founded in Borgo San Lorenzo, Florence. They produce greeting cards, journals, decorative and writing papers, and other fine stationery.

I was kindly sent ten notebooks to try out, and was excited when a huge package from Italy landed on my doorstep. 

The first three notebooks varied in size, but had the same cover material. The smallest notebook had blank pages, while the other two were lined.
The paper was a smooth and creamy off-white, on which I decided to test my most used pens -- the Pilot G-2 07 and Sakura Pigma Micron 05. 

As you can see, there is some bleed through with the Micron. I was pleased to see only some ghosting with my Pilot.

Again, minimal ghosting of the Pilot G2 is present, but nothing obstrusive.

Moving on to this style of notebook, you can see that the cover design is similar. However, the A5 size has blank pages and a sewn binding, whereas the smaller one has lined pages and spiral binding.

This A5 notebook made me smile, with its lobster cover and red underwater design. Again, this one also has blank pages and a sewn binding.

The hardcover lined notebooks pictured above made me swoon--I loved the French words and the vintage look. The larger one has gold detail, and both of their elastic closings are similar to the Moleskine.

Speaking of gold detail, this hardcover blank notebook was also a pleasure to page through. Do you see the gold-lined pages? 

This Pinocchio notebook has a fun and playful look. With the spiral binding and elastic, it looks like a very classy notebook to bring to school or work.

Overall, I am very impressed with the quality and design of these notebooks. I would be slightly wary about the type of pen to use, but Rossi notebooks work well with my primary writing utensil. While I've always been minimal with my journal covers, the decorative aspect certainly appeals to a number of vintage and stationery aficionados.

Disclosure: I was sent these notebooks in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own, and I was not compensated in any other way.