Travelers Notebook Olive


Traveler's Notebook Olive

I knew I wanted one the moment I heard that Traveler’s Company is coming out with an olive green TN. I got this from Everything Calligraphy last month, and decided that I would use it as my calligraphy and watercolor journal.

Traveler's Notebook Olive

The color is a little hard to photograph. It always comes across darker than it actually is in person. The color is a dusky green, more like the camo green in my opinion, rather than olive green. It’s a deep color that I think will become more interesting as it ages. In photographs, it looks more like black than green. In person, the color is a bit ambiguous, depending on the light. I’ll post more photos of it in the future as it develops a patina. I’m curious how the texture and color will change once I start applying leather balm on it (maybe next month). My brown TN became shinier and the brown color became deeper and richer.

Traveler's Notebook Olive

I decided to keep it thin with only two inserts so that it won’t be so heavy. I use my brown TN as my primary journal anyway. I made those monkey fist charms and bookmarks with the elastic bands from an old TN repair kit that I haven’t used yet because I only used the dark-colored bands. I thought the bright colors popped pretty nicely against the color of the leather. If you want to know how to make your own monkey fist knots, this is the tutorial I used.

I made my own watercolor insert from 200gsm Canson paper. Here’s the cover I DIY’ed for my first insert.

Traveler's Notebook Olive

I didn’t realize that it had a rough side and a smooth side, so some pages have the textured side on the left, some on the right. It’s alright, though, it can handle light washes on both sides, albeit with a lot of warping.

Travelers Notebook Olive

Traveler's Notebook Olive

I enjoy bringing it around with me. It’s comfortable to hold and gosh, it’s so pretty in person. Next time I’ll try and find watercolor paper that’s textured on both sides, though. Overall, I’m pretty much in love with this TN. It’s a great addition to my EDC.

Kaweco Sport Cognac


Ah, these little pocket pens. Sure, you end up inking them more frequently than full-sized pens but what the heck. They’re cute. I got this from Stationer Extraordinaire as a birthday gift to myself last September. I also ordered a bottle of Akkerman Hopjesbruin a few weeks after, without realizing that they’re the perfect pair in terms of color.

The package arrived earlier this week, it was carefully packed and included a really nice note. I always appreciate efforts like this, it adds a very personal touch to the service.

Kaweco Sport Cognac

The pen comes in a tin box, with a blue cartridge and 5 brown cartridges. It also included the clip.

Kaweco Sport Cognac

Since I also got the Akkerman ink on the same day, I decided to use that to try out the pen. Isn’t the pairing perfect? I think it is. 🙂 The ink flows really well with this pen, and it worked right out of the box. No baby bottom to smooth out this time, which is a relief.

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I loved the ink so much that I turned this pen into an eyedropper afterwards. I’m gonna have it in rotation for a while. 🙂 These pocket pens are just so cute. I’m gonna need another mini leather slip soon.

Kaweco Sport Cognac

Parker Premier Monochrome Black


That’s a mouthful.

Parker Premier Monochrome Black

I first saw this pen in person last year, during the first big pen meet that I attended in Makati. The owner is a nice young man, well put-together, with a warm smile and a gorgeous green Vacumatic tucked into his shirt pocket. I asked if I could see his Parker Premier (which he dubbed The Batman Pen), and he happily opened his pen case to let me hold it. Gosh. I recall thinking what a handsome pen! And I carefully handed it back to him.

Modern Parker pens don’t really get my motor going. I find them so lacking in character compared with vintage pens, making it painfully obvious that Parker today isn’t what it used to be. This pen, though, I really liked. It’s perhaps the only modern Parker pen that I liked a lot. So when this nice young man put up this very gently used pen for sale (at half the retail price in National Bookstore), I snapped it up.

Parker Premier Monochrome Black

I’ve been using it to write, write, write the entire afternoon and evening yesterday. I’ve been literally writing until way into the wee morning hours. It’s so hard to put this pen down. I’ll take better photos for my upcoming review. 🙂

*Screams silently…*


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I’ve had this pen in my wishlist for two years. I can still remember when I first saw it, it was during a pen meet with one of FPN-P’s nibmeisters, Mr. Pentangeli. It was also around that time when I was only discovering the beauty of vintage pens (especially parkers). It was pen love at first sight. 🙂 It’s a Parker Debutante. From what I understand, it’s a pretty uncommon pen. It’s not a sub-debutante but a debutante, and only a few pop up on the internet. Blue is a rare color for it, and it’s especially rare to find one in good condition.

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I am just to happy to add this little beauty in my collection. I cannot wait to review it. 🙂 It is sooo small. About an inch taller than a Liliput.

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L-R: Parker Vacumatic junior debutante (azure blue), junior (golden brown) , and major (azure blue).

It’s always a thrill to cross something out of your pen wishlist. 🙂 This one’s a keeper.

Sunday Leather Craft’s TN


I’ve been bitten by the TN bug. I’ve written about the Midori Travelers’ Notebook here and a comparison between that and Sunday Leather Craft’s TN here. I thought of leaving it at that but I felt like it would be great to take a closer look at Sunday Leather’s traveler’s notebook since I really liked it a lot.

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I’ve had a couple of pen cases made by Toto of Sunday Leather Craft, and I’ve been pretty happy with them so far. He does great work at very reasonable prices, and he’s not hard to collaborate with. Of course, he sometimes has a lot of clients lined up so you need to patiently wait your turn. He has always met the deadlines that he commits to, though. It’s always great to work with people who are easy to contact and who keep their word. It’s also great to support local artisans who use locally-sourced leather and other materials.

The leather used on the TN is soft but not extremely so. It holds its shape without the edges curling up or the covers flapping around. It has this raw feel to it, and I guess it will be especially appealing if you like your leather TN to look more rough and tumble than too well-put together.

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Here is the setup of the elastics inside the flap. That’s one continuous string that can hold one insert per string. Although if you want to maximize it and put in as much as you can, this can potentially hold 8 inserts or more. Unless the inserts are thin, though, I would find that uncomfortable to write on. That’s just me, though. I know a lot of people would enjoy a chunky TN.

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Here’s what three individual inserts looped into the elastics look like. Of course you can also change the elastic and pick a thinner one (or use Midori’s replacement elastics) because these are a little thick. The leather is soft enough so that it will wrap around nicely on multiple notebooks.

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The elastic that closes the TN is located along the spine. I think this is a good idea because of the softness of the leather. This way, the leather doesn’t bunch up when you’re pulling on the elastic or when it’s wrapped around the TN. Like any other TN, you can customize this with charms, beads and whatnots, but I prefer to keep it simple and unadorned because I don’t like having to shift the elastic around before I write just so I won’t feel the charm behind the notebooks.

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I noticed that Midori’s inserts make it a bit hard to lay the TN flat. I guess continued use will change that? Or buy inserts that already lay flat. It’s a minor inconvenience that I put up with.

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Overall, I like this TN. It has a nice, rustic look and feel to it. It doesn’t have that perfect, industrial, mass-produced vibe. It’s as individual as the person who will use it. I miss the bookmark that I got used to in Midori’s TN, although I’m guessing it’s easy to attach one if you really want to figure out how, what with all those holes already punched and set up in it. The price is incredibly friendly too. It’s one of the more affordable fauxdoris that I’ve found from local sellers. If you want something that looks fancier (like, with pockets in flaps, etc), or if you want a different size like A5, you can always specify what you need. That’s the beauty of bespoke leather notebooks. 🙂

Check out Sunday Leather Craft for more TNs and other leather goods.

My First Two Travelers’ Notebooks


I first came across Travelers’ Notebooks (TNs) last year. I was skeptical. They just seemed too expensive for me, and the shape was odd. I was completely sold out on A5-sized journals and didn’t see myself having much use for such an odd-shaped journal of sorts. I hemmed and I hawed and I waffled around trying one until early this month. I decided to try a Midori Traveler’s Notebook and a hand-sewn TN made by Sunday Leather Craft.

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Sunday Leather TN on top, Midori TN at the bottom.

I was completely unprepared for how much I was going to enjoy these journals. These are both TNs, they look similar, but they feel different.

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The elastic of an MTN is simpler and uses a thinner rubber band. The Sunday Leather Craft TN has a thicker band and a piece of leather which helps keep the cover closed, I guess, but I opted to remove it to make it look simpler.

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The leather that Sunday Leather Craft uses is relatively firm, but is a lot softer and more pliable compared with Midori’s TN. The result is that it feels more floppy. Not in a bad way, though. I like that it has this very raw feel to it. It can accommodate more inserts too, because it’s softer. It also lays down flatter than a Midori TN.

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Sunday Leather Craft’s TN is already set up for multiple inserts. I watched a few videos on YouTube on how to “hack” a Midori TN to hold more than three inserts but this setup eliminates the need to poke holes into the leather. If you’re comfortable with chunky setups and multiple inserts, this will definitely make it easier for you to do that.

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The Midori Travelers’ Notebook, on the other hand, feels more polished. The leather is stiffer, although it looks like it will get a tiny bit more pliable with time. The leather is gorgeous, but I really don’t mind it getting scuffed while I use it (it already has a few dings on it after a few weeks of use) because I want it to show signs that it’s been used and loved and taken everywhere.

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The elastic that closes the Midori TN is knotted at the back of the leather cover. The leather is stiff enough that it doesn’t cause any deformation because of the tension of the elastic. Sunday Leather Craft’s TN is knotted from the spine, which is a smart design given the fact that the leather is softer than Midori’s. It minimizes the bunching up of the leather as long as there are notebooks inserted in it.

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Midori TN (bottom) is a tight fit. I have the same setup of notebooks in both TNs (two blank notebooks and a sketchbook), but Sunday Leather Craft’s TN is roomier.

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It’s very tempting to put more  notebooks in the roomier Sunday Leather Craft TN. Maybe I will stuff more in there and see how the leather will hold up with the chunk. Of course, lugging that around will be challenging (and might cause lower back pain, haha). Plus, I usually include a lot of photos, washi tapes and other stuff in my journals, so it will need some room to grow.

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The paper I used on these two TNs are Midori’s inserts. They’re good, but I’m afraid I really cannot get used to them. I am going to replace these with Tomoe River inserts as soon as possible. Aside from the quality of paper, Tomoe River inserts are also thinner. You can put more inserts without bulking up the notebook too much. Of course, Tomoe River inserts are more expensive and not always available locally. If you aren’t very picky with the paper, the default Midori inserts are good enough, and they have different kinds of refills too if you want to use your TN as a planner as well as a journal/sketchbook.

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Midori sketchbook insert

I do like the sketchbook inserts, though, even if they do add to the bulk of the TN. As for the shape of the inserts, I’m surprised that I adjusted to it pretty quickly. I initially felt that it would be too narrow for the size of my handwriting. Turns out it’s not that bad. It doesn’t feel cramped at all. It even fits in my bag better than my A5 journals do. Even if it’s chunky, it’s actually lighter and easier to carry around.

There’s a huge price difference between these two, though. The locally-made TN from Sunday Leather Craft costs about 1/3 of the price of the Midori. It doesn’t come with inserts, though. You can even ask them to customize it with pockets or choose the color and texture of your leather and the color of the stitching. I think it’s great value for money.

Overall, I love these TNs. I like the size, I like the flexibility of the inserts, and I love the leather cover. I can store the inserts as I fill them up and let the leather cover age beautifully. I like it so much that I’ve decided to use it as my main journal for next year.

I’ll probably write a separate review of the Sunday Leather Craft TN after the new year. 🙂

Midori Traveler’s Notebook First Impressions


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I’ve been waffling about getting one of these since last year. I wasn’t sure I would like it, even after seeing some people’s TN setup. I honestly thought it was too expensive for a notebook cover, and I didn’t get all the fuss about it. This year, I finally took the plunge, promising myself that I will keep an open mind as I tried it out.

I forgot to take a photo of the packaging, haha. But I do like the way the starter set was packaged. It’s a reusable, recyclable cardboard case which looks really simple but oddly beautiful. I guess that’s part of the appeal of this TN. It looks deceptively simple but every little thing about it is wonderful.

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I prettyfied it a bit by attaching a charm of two leaves on the bookmark. I decided not to put a charm on the band that holds the covers together because I am not sure if it will be intrusive when I lay it flat on the table to write.

The elastic that closes the TN is attached through a hole in the middle of the back flap. You’d think you’d be bothered by the knot that goes in there, but surprisingly, it’s not really noticeable. The elastic that Midori uses for their TN is thin but feels sturdy. I compared it with some of the elastics that I found in bookstores and they’re much better. Those I found in bookstores weren’t rigid enough, and they were too thick.

I like the quality of the leather a lot. It holds its shape and feels firm but supple. It will age really well, I think. Smells wonderful too. 🙂

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The placement of the knot where the elastic pokes through, plus the stiffness of the leather, makes sure that the spine of the TN isn’t wrinkled up as it holds the inserts.

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Here’s what the bottom looks like. There’s no wrinkling on the leather at all. The leather looks like it will age really well, and take all the abuse and beating of being lugged around everywhere. I know you can fit more than 3 inserts, I watched some TN hacks on YouTube, but I think three is a good enough number for me. The inserts are pretty thick, and I suppose they would get thicker as I fill up the notebook with journal entries and photos. This is chunky enough for me. I’m waiting for the Tomoe River paper insert to be restocked at Pengrafik soon so I can replace the notebooks with the thinner Tomoe River refills. More on that shortly.

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The first thing you’ll see when you open my TN is a plastic card carrier, which I used to carry my favorite instax photos around. Six slots for both flaps mean I can carry 12 photos.

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The fly leaf of all TN inserts have this box where you can write a summary of what your notebook is about. Or, in my case, I wrote my favorite verse.

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The paper itself is good. I think I’m just too used to the Tomoe River paper to enjoy it that much. It shows of the shading and sheen, though the coating sometimes makes it hard for the ink to spread on the paper. I find the pages too thick but then again, I’m used to Tomoe River paper. There’s no bleed through or feathering, though. So that’s great.

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I’m pretty disappointed that it doesn’t take watercolor well. The paper just absorbs the water too fast, so I cannot work with wet washes at all. I cannot layer the colors. The paper is only suitable for pen and ink sketches.

IMG_3569 A good alternative would be the sketchbook insert, which is made of thicker paper. It’s still too absorbent for wet washes but at least it can hold up to simple watercolor paintings.

It’s a bummer since I can’t integrate watercolor paintings in my journal entries, but it’s nice to have a separate insert just for drawings and paintings. I like that it has perforated sheets, too.

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Here’s a stippling of a koi fish that I drew last night. On a side note, I did not know that stippling was so much fun! A closer look at my little fishy…

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The paper feels so nice for pen and ink drawings. It does add more chunk to the already chunky setup, though. Still, I like it and I decided I’ll continue to fill it up with pen and ink drawings. I think I’ll wait for the Tomoe River inserts for my watercolor paintings (which I prefer to integrate with my journal entries, anyway).

I also bought a locally-made fauxdori from a local leather artisan. I like it too, because it has a different feel to it. I’ll probably write about that in a separate blog entry and compare it with a Midori Traveler’s Notebook. Overall, I think the Midori TN is worth the price. I’m still learning how to maximize it, but I like my simple setup well enough. The size is comfortable, the leather cover is just gorgeous, and the simple details about it make it such a beautiful notebook cover. I’m happy I tried it out, looks like I’ll be spending a lot of time with it. 🙂