Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Planner Hacks of the Unhinged Kind

There comes a time in all of our lives when nothing seems to make sense and at the same time... somehow it still does.

Do allow me to elaborate.

While the aesthetics of Traveler´s Notebook do tickle my visual senses, the very narrowness makes me feel subconsciously limited. There always is the option to tilt the notebook to its side and enjoy the width of a4, while taking positives from the very portability of a regular size notebook (11 cm´s). But that just feels... wrong. Or is it just not being accustomed? Food for thought, right there. 

Another narrowness lurks upon the paper of personal sized planners. They are only 9,5 cm´s wide. There are those who write comfortably to personal sized paper and given the right tip or nib, suitably dry enough of an ink etc... so can I but it is not enjoyable. I now journal and take notes also on a4 size and see how big thoughts just flow to a bigger paper. Preferably with at least medium nib and wetter inks. I love the feeling of pen flying atop a paper freely, spewing out ideas and answers from your subconscious mind.Why would anybody volunteer to smaller ideas?

Yet the physical aspects of this life come into account as well. When one needs to carry many,many many kinds of different information with oneself, I have found that the ringed option still becomes more of a practical solution. There is the option to remove used pages off and load only so much that you absolutely need to the rings.  
While I do have and adore a Franklin Covey Classic binder, as well as a Filofax a5 Balmoral, the issue of weight paired with genetically useless joints come into play. A planner to me is something that holds my Life. Not an easy nor a light task to take upon, I reckon. There needs to be space to monthly, weekly, daily planning, to lists, projects, slots for different people that need be taken into account etc. A pocket size would be ideal in terms of carrying but entirely impossible in terms of paper size. A personal? The narrowness of the paper drives me mental! 

So what is a gal to do? Well, I´ll tell you what is a gal to do. Wider papers to a personal size. 2 cm´s wider, to be exact. And it works. 
I used rings from a personal binder (a general sumthnsumthn brand from a grocery store. Even that cheap plastic binder had better rings than the rings that my Malden from Filofax had... Those were useless and needed to be binned.) to the task and an old suede jacket. Actually the binder was made eons ago already, to a writing project but when life got so much more hectic, I needed to let the writing project be for a while and so the soft suede binder with its 11,5 cm´s papers were forgotten...for awhile. Only to be realized once more as it ascended from the shelves like a bold, immortal phoenix, laughing at the face of personal paper and its limited petty little nature.

And this is how it became my everyday planner. Because I no longer can function nor think without Chronodexes, I naturally needed to print a week on two pages worth of chronodexes and see if it works. It all comes down to these circles of sanity to me. If chronodexes won´t work with a system- we can´t talk. Bye. If they will, everything is possible! This now is third week in a row and I can say that this works. This indeed works! What I have is Mo-Wed on the other page and Thu-Sun on the other. To the in-between I put an original personal sized paper. In this it actually is quite useful because it won´t "block" completely to other side of the week. 

I had to be a bit of a bore and slap generously post-its to the pages, I did smudge some words but I didn´t want to risk some crafty geek digging out people´s names and their contact information so I spread the joy of stationary about. I could have printed out a random week and I could have filled a "pretense layout" but who has time or patience for that!   

As you see, I took these pictures early this morning so only the Monday is entirely filled, despite the fact that the whole week is already planned in terms of appointments. 

I use colour coding. I think visually. Colour coding allows me to take a glance of a week or a day and immediatelyI know what is about to take place.What we have here in our Staples is a collection of Mark-It dots. They don´t always get used evenly. Shuuuuuure, I could order on line but I also could do so many other things. I also have these nifty coloured pens that, when wiggled about, make these uncanny dots. So see if I care. BUT this morning it hit me! No, not caring- don´t be silly. But this idea that what if.... What if I coloured the Mark-Its with Sharpies to create the needed coloured dots. Radical, I know but oh well, stranger things have taken place in this world than people colouring sticky little pieces of paper. 
Isn´t it incredible how terrifyingly crafty ideas one comes up with when procrastinating paperwork...

I know there is angels in the sticky tape on the picture above. I found it last Holiday season and it is so strong that no force known to human kind can rip that thing off once it is laid down. So when ever there needs to be a pocket in any papery thing- it is doomed to have a jolly group of angels keeping it put. I could have covered this with a more respectable washi but this too falls under the category of "see if I care".


So I then tried the white dots with pink sharpie. Perfection. Our cats now have dots dedicated only to themselves. 

I also tried black atop of red dots. Turns out that the strongest black tint was found in felt-tipped calligraphy marker. Great! Paperwork now has dots mirroring the colour of my cheery soul. 

And thus, a package of Mark-It dots morphed into a much more versatile version if itself.  

I also tried pink atop of yellow dots. Nope. This resembled too much of the brownish sienna dots already existing. Besides, yellow dots actually are one of the most used ones. But it was fun to try. 

I have received a few messages asking how I track on monthly basis and I still am writing about it this month, as promised. But right now there is somewhat more acute situations in our home-front so I shall have to tackle those hurdles first. 

My very best to all!

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Herlitz Traveller´s Notebook- style in a4

I found something interesting while I was shopping for groceries. There were notebooks in Traveller´s Notebook- style by Herlitz both in a5 and a4 sizes. They are made of strong and pliable plastic and have grooves on the spine to secure the placement of rubber bands. Unfortunately the buyer of the grocery store must be of the hellokitty-sort since these delights only came in light pink and light green. Understandably the pink one was left on the shelves as I opted for the green version. 
This flex cost me only 7,95 €. Notebooks alone are worth as much, let alone a hard wearing cover such as this.

Herlitz offered information on the paper band that this thing actually comes in variety of sorts, plastic, canvas-look and leather-look. One can also opt for different hued rubber bands. 

Inside the a4- sized covers came two notebooks. One lined (9mm spacing) and a grid (5 mm spacing) notebook. Both perforated. When ripped off the perforation very neatly gives the paper in without any extra wiggling- this is not a common phenomena in the world of perforation. Paper quality is not too shabby but it is not great either. Now, I will be the first to admit to being a complete paper-snob so I will gladly just excuse myself at this point. What needs be mentioned that even the wettest ink does not feather nor does it bleed regardless if you even held the tip of the pen at place for a while. Being 80 gsm weight, it does shadow but clearly their paper quality extends the average 80 gsm. paper.

Despite the "high quality" pictures I quickly snapped with my phone, the paper is white, not ivory as it seems. 

Rubber bands to the covers would be easily changeable. Herlitz promises that the flex is light weight and they are not lying about it either. I have actually used this in my personal planning as I have completely transferred to a4-sized notebooks and it does hold what is necessary quite nicely. One alteration I had to make immediately was to tie knots to the rubber bands holding the notebooks. They were just too loose and the notebooks had too much give to wobble about the spine area.

I actually have thought about spray-painting this to black or simply gluing a piece of nice quality leather atop the light green. The covers themselves do not show any signs of use and I have tossed this about in my bags, on my desk, on table tops, on my bedside tables etc. Where ever I go, this goes with me. 

I found Herlitz´s video from YouTube- Land. In the video it is mentioned that the flex comes in "plastic, leather and linen". However, in the band around the notebook it is clearly mentioned of the linen-look and leather-look options. 
I wanted to mention this because if I happened upon ordering a "leather" cover (based on the product promoting video) and ended up with a synthetic product on my greedy hands, I would not feel tremendously entertained.  

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

a5 Malden, now ringless and working.

It has been a long time since I sat down to type a few words to this neglected corner of the blogdom. However, as it is in life everything comes in cycles and I made a decision to dust the ol´ thing from oblivion. 

Over the past few years I have been fibbing about different systems when it comes to time-tracking, planning and staying atop of the several responsibilities that life brings. I had been using an a5 Balmoral from Filofax for... closer to 15 years already and then I ordered two a5 Maldens from Filofax. turns out that the glorious quality that I associated with the brand had gone to the very opposite direction. On the other binder the rings were beyond repair and they ripped all papers. The other binder was, after several ring prepairs a bit longer living experience- we are talking months here. Eventually they too gave up and it was time for the rings to come out. 
I will disclose the altrecations done to the binders with greater detail- not only rings were poor in quality, but stiches were ripping off as well. Not acceptable in any product that customers are paying money for.

Since time and age has had its effect on the Balmoral, it has done the very same to me. I have a genetic disorder that causes my limbs be overly soft and there is all kinds of deteriation happening in both joints and in bone matter. While I take incredible joy in the paper size of an a5, my joints no longer can take the very heft of such a binder.
And this contrast is the source of all the fibbing mentioned. How to maximise the paper size while still maintaining a manageable weight of one´s binder. 
I have tried a lot of systems now, over the course of few years. And right now I have something in use that is not killing my wrists, has not bended any of my fingers backwards and still holds almost a5- sized papers. I took my altered Maldens to good use and use traveler´s notebook style inserts in there. While "regular" TN size is 11 cm´s in width, I have used 13 cm´s wide booklets. This size is also known as Moleskine Large size. 
I will go to my set up in greater detail in a later post, but for now it´s sufficed to say that this system, this size feels... able in its physical aspect. My planning system worked like a well-oiled machine all along, I am very organized. However I needed to get it all to a paper size that was manageable and as large as-physically speaking-possible. 

I had all of the three booklets running smoothly as a well-oiled machine in the covers, no problem there. I use a calendar-which is Chronodex by Patrick Ng. In it I have attached mothly (month on two pages) pages from Philofaxy printables. Middle insert is a Bullet Journal, Last of the three is Collections. In it I have only a few subject matters, the "running collections" (those that are prone to change, such as things to get to the office, books to order, things to get to home, different sorts of information that is prone to change) are written on the Bullet Journal. Everything was all fine and dandy. Only... the chronodexes were running out of their course. This was the last week in it! And it was in the regular size which left two cm´s from 13 cm. width. Manageable yet visually annoying.
Well, that was about to change since... 

This morning I was greeted by the new download by Patrick Ng. This download was a booklet full of glorious chronodexes, for the second half of the year. 

Printing the new pages under careful observation of the Feline Overlordess

I printed the pages on ivory 80 gsm. paper. The Wild One watched over the printer- or the Thing Of Doom, if you asked of her.
Printing the booklet is very straight forward thing to do. Dowload the file, print it double sided. My printer is the simplest techy thing ever, so I first printed the first half, flipped the stack on the short side and printed the other half on the other side. 
After printing I folded the pages carefully and crisply.
Then you just fold the pages in half, bind them and cut the edges. Again, the regular TN width is 11 cm´s, I use the 13 cm. width. I did entertain myself with the thought of a full a5 size, but I then discarded the thought after I needed to go and apply some more of the numbning creme to my wrists...
However, there is generous space for more inserts if needed. I am telling myself not to get crazy about it, though. But I could, if I wanted to... stuff the thing.
I have three bookletts in the setup, all 13 cm´s wide. I could fit a5´s if I wanted to.

Tied by using strong cotton thread.
I round my edges. I always round my edges. I can not see how not everybody rounds their edges. Everybody should round their edges. Rounded edges are a wonderful thing! 

I have noticed that by cutting little grooves, the rubberbands that hold the booklets at place don´t wobble about annoyingly.

I rounded the corners, as I always do.
Small nicks at the very spine help to keep rubber bands hold their appointed places.
On the left is year´s first six months worth of chronodexes. On the right the next six months.
I just want to praise the whole visual scenery that Patrick Ng seems to have a natural inclination to create around him and the things he does. Do go and dwell in the goodness that is his flickr! It is a feat to one´s eyes. 

Everything about the booklet pleases me immensely. 

Backside of the booklet is a "Boarding Pass to the future" in which one can commit with one´s goals.
So this is it. My Book, my Brains, my Diane.

This is how my pens travel with me.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Happy Yuletide

`Tis the Season! 
I bought a fabulous leather trench from a second hand shop, the leather was just so soft and buttery. I cut it to pieces and made a bag (for myself) and a cover for notebooks (for my son´s minder).
The TN is made by assembling two layers of leather, gluing and hammering them together. The optional size visually for me is 12 cm´s width to a5´s height. So I measured and made the leather covers to fit 12 cm notebooks. I glued and hammered and stitched additional, third layer of leather to the spine, to give it strength and to avoid the dreaded puckering that always is so very gringe-worthy...
Picture above is closest to truth, talking about colour, since it´s been taken with flash. We had absolutely no natural sunshine today and the sun was up for only 5 hours today altogether. But... as it is in Nature, days will get longer every day, starting tomorrow.
However taking pictures with flash gives a unnatural glare and my source of picturification is a phone camera so adjusting flash doesn´t exactly isn´t an option. So... pictures below are all taken without flash and show a much darker shade of leather than the lovely really is.


After having finished making the covers, I oiled and conditioned the leather. It was very dry to begin with. 

Inside the covers it has two flaps. This is to ensure that possible a4´s don´t escape, and also, the topmost flap assists in keeping the notebook pages open. The crocodile textured leather actually is genuine alligator. I bought a vintage bag from Amsterdam back in the days and used the bag so fastidiously that the very intricate lock system finally gave up. I snipped the seams open and gave the leather new life. Alligator is perfect material for such flaps because it is very hard, almost scale- like. My son explained that it feels like the skin of a dragon would feel like. Harness- like.
The first notebook is 60 gsm. paper from Staples. I suppose it is the closest experience to Tomoe River paper we get to come in our neck of woods. This is my absolute favourite paper in the world thus far. So thin, so good quality, takes any media and doesn´t even wrinkle when using watercolours. Shades through, naturally since it is very thin paper indeed, but so far even the wettest ink has not bled through. It feels silky smooth to touch and after writing on it, it only gets better.
I covered the notebook with a piece of wallpaper.
I am giving this shebang to my son´s minder (I could say nanny but the lady does not live with us, claiming her to be a "babysitter" gives me all kinds of wrongful vibes since my boy certainly is not a baby anymore), she always seems very keen on my notebooks and organisational systems. She deserves to experience this goodness herself.

On the inside of the cover I slapped a few sticky notes just for fun.


Second notebook is printed from MorganLeFaesTrinkets - blog. I have used her printable notebooks with quotes on them for... I can´t even remember how long. They all have 5mm grid on them and I love grid. I can colour code my page markers to the same places every time I take on another notebook to use. 

Third notebook is a monthly calendar that I printed from Ray Blake´s blog My Life All In One Place. It is a "full" or "regular" size notebook and I just trimmed and extra cm. to the sides. It contains monthly spreads to year 2016 and 2017.

Fourth and fifth notebook are weekly spreads to take one through the entire year.

At the back there are additional two pockets and a pen loop- pen loop made from the alligator leather.
You can´t quite see well but the sneaky sneakster in me had this wonderful notion to hide the knot from the elastic closer to the outer edge.Perhaps one can see it better from very close but this gives somewhat cleaner outlook to the back cover. 

The overall feel of the notebook is very soft, very pliable yet very sturdy. All the layers of leather give it sturdiness a notebook such as this greatly needs. 
All notebooks were printed to 80 gsm. paper in "ivory", from Staples, save the first one that is white and 60 gsm. 
I hope she will like her gift, my son said she will certainly be thrilled, and those two have known quite many years already, as have I... so I do believe that she will be quite pleased.

Happy Yuletide from us to you and yours!

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Oiling the Malden binder

As promised, above the oiling as I usually do it. These days I rarely bother to really rub the oil in, because these really are not its first conditionings either. However, I recommend rubbing very meticulously your leather goods for the first dozen or so times. Better be safe than sorry.

Above the generic olive oil I happened to grasp first from the cupboards today. Beside the Malden binder in personal size, also known as the Brains at our household.

I then pour some oil (whichever oil, really) onto the palm of my hand and just spread it merrily around the binder.

You will see how it will start to seep in to the leather, simultaneously making you a respectable leather- product- owner, while giving your leathery item extended lifespan. You may proceed patting your own back or shoulders if other people are not available to congratulate you on this outstanding act of decency.  

At some point it pays to spread out the remaining oils evenly to the binder- or to add more oil to the thirstier areas.

As you will see, even after 37426348736482 applications, all of that oil will be absorbed. Once this stops from happening, another round of back-/shoulder patting is in order as your leather now is in the state of "saturated" which most mimics its natural state while it still was on a living, breathing and feeling animal. Continue thine oilings until saturated state is achieved. This might take several months even for us most enthused greasers.

For the insides, I just usually open the binder, empty its pockets and...

Get oiling. This is best to do in the evening and leave the natural fats seep into the leather over night. Having laminated page lifters on either side helps protecting the pages as well. I do the same treatment to both front- and back parts, usually during consecutive evenings. 

All of these pictures were taken close to window, but since it was a cloudy and murky day, I added an artificial light which caused the reflective bits.

Above is a picture of the oiled binder closed. This is next to window, in natural daylight. Compared to the dry, scale-like leather this binder was just months ago, it has a completely different texture now.

And the binder opened. Leather still is "rustic" in its appearance but to touch it, feels like touching  finest aniline leather. And after every application, the leather gets softer and softer.

Music of the day.

Friday, 2 October 2015

The aging process of a Malden personal binder.

The picture above was take 5th of August this year. I just had picked the parcel and opened it outside, in direct sunshine. The binder was bought second hand but it was most evident that it was, as the seller listed, never been used. Leather was gorgeous, yet very dry. Binder´s condition left nothing to moan about. The parcel was superbly packaged and I left praising thank yous in his message box. Of the six rings inside one was perfect which is one more than the usual Filofax standard these days is so Lady Luck was apparently feeling quite frisky those days.  

The picture above shows the same binder, opened but the sun was covered with clouds. It still was very bright and hot like in a hot summer´s day would be, just without direct sunlight. 
As shown, the binder came with its original diary pages, dating from 2011. Alongside there was older pages as well, so there is no way telling (apart from contacting Filofax requesting the time estimate of the code in the strap but I somehow manage to make do without that bit of knowledge) the binders age in years. It did not lay flat. Contrary to other Maldens I have, this one had something... crinkly inside. It doesn´t crinkle anymore. It also is properly greased like a well oiled machine, that I intended the beast to be. Said in its literal meaning.

Above is a picture also taken outside. The binder is now almost a month old (counted in active using time). By this time I had oiled this conservatively every now and then. A lot of scratches came and went as I rubbed them off. I did not want to oil this too heavily at first, I wanted the parchment- like dry and thirsty leather to suck up the oil and hand creme from my hands first. I knew it would and had I wanted to prevent this, I would have soaked this beauty in a closed plastic bag in olive oil, in the very beginning. When leather is saturated with natural oils, any additional oils and fats can be easily wiped off. If leather is dry however, it will act like a rescued puppy and get evvverything it can from anybody and everybody, just to hold on to dear life. The fats the leather first soaks will stay, and can stain leather unevenly, lest the fats and oils are spread and rubbed in evenly. First is the magic word here in terms of talking about dry leather. I knew this and I wanted to use it to "age" the binder visually faster than it would have done so.

Here above is another picture taken near window (South, light is harsh) and now the binder is wee over a month old- using vise. One can see how the driest bits close to upper and lower edges have started to pigment darker, also there is a distinct hand print in the works on the spine area. It is not easily seen here, since the window is lighting the spine, but it was easily seen with one´s eyes. 

Picture above is taken this morning, The binder has been in active use for two months (shy of just three days). Lighting is cold now, as is the weather and glove- season is upon us. This is how I carry my planner everywhere. Everywhere and I am not joking. The back pocket holds my phone usually (not now as I used it to take these pictures.) I am ready to take calls and jot down appointments at a moment´s notice even when I take Feisty McWigglebottom to his walks. The binder has been subjected to winds, several rains, it has been scratched, it has been slept upon (McWiggly). It has had coffee spills, it has been wiped with kitchen towels after been submerged in flour and it has also experienced the excitement when spills happen during making one´s cleaning products. To put it in short, it has not been babied. It is a hard working binder, and will get treated accordingly- in good and in bad. To make it as resistible to life as humanely possible, I have now oiled it several times. I use avocado oil, sunflower oil, olive oil. I have dropped EO´s to the carrier oils every now and then to give it a nice scent. I have rubbed it with my hand cremes as I rub them into my hands. I make most of my own cremes, so usually it is a random mix of cocoa butter, shea butter, coconut oil, carrot oil, EO´s, rose water etc. This leather has probably seen every fat there is in the house and we have a lot of fats. During the summer months it also was subjected to WD-40 as I oiled my son´s bike´s bits and that gunk was all over my hands. I just happened to have placed the binder as a weight to the rags, to keep them from flying off with the heavy winds. As mentioned, this thing gets no special treatment. Living with us gets you messy at times but hey, at least life never gets boring around here.
As a result, it has become soft, so soft and pliable, I can not even describe it in detail. I can not see myself ever parting from this beauty. I know we´ve only been in each other´s lives for two months, but it seems like so much longer period of time, do you know what I mean? 
*crickets sing*

Above another picture from this morning. Now the deeper colouration around spine area is more visible, even from low quality pictures like these, naturally seen with the naked eye it all becomes more enhanced. I placed a sweet inside the back pocket to show just how soft the binder has become. One can almost spell the brand of said sweet through leather.

Then the scratch test. A Malden leather can recover from terrible things, you know? I wanted to demonstrate a deep scratch ( I pressed hard on the leather with these talons) I made on the darker bit. I wish the picture would better show contrast between scratch and deeper coloured leather better but alas, the light is bound to reflect from that surface. Let it be said, it was very clear and very deep.

After rubbing it less than ten seconds, can you see the scratch? 
Key words- well oiled leather. 

Weekend is upon us. If only time allows, during these following two days I will post the basic oiling process I do to the binder, how it will look during oiling and after oiling. 
I know I haven´t been most active at around this corner of the world, but there are those times when a lot of life flows in fast pace and the only sane thing is to jump along. 
But oiling, this weekend, I´ll make a note of it in my planner and see that it gets done!