ChicSparrow Nanos + Setup Video

I would say that I have fallen in love hard with ChicSparrow TNs, and my latest haul is a trio of Nanos. A Nano is the smallest size TN that ChicSparrow offers, with

inserts in the A7 range (or approximately 2.75×4″). It’s the perfect size for a teeny tiny wallet TN, and goes well if you’re going around with a tiny purse. Here’s my three TN cuties:


From left to right they are: Time Traveller Outlander, Castle Rock Pemberly, and Wine Outlander. Time Traveller and Wine are the new incarnations of the Outlander leather, but they are basically the same extremely soft and pliable and squishy leather. The main difference with the old Outlanders is that these have a smooth and shiny surface, but they are quite prone to scratches. Castle Rock Pemberly is actually my second Pemberly (I haven’t written about the first!!), and it is an awesomely pebbly yet pliable leather.

The Nano comes with only one inside elastic, but I purchased the Nano Gift Set which means along with the TN I also got a pair of ChicSparrow notebook inserts (one lined and one blank) that also has an elastic to hold them together, plus a nice suede-y dust bag. The Nano also has two interior pockets, which have a nice wavy cut. These pockets are roomy enough to hold 3-4 cards, which are great if you are using it as a wallet.

Speaking of wallet, I was able to take the Wine and the Castle Rock out for a trial run as wallet TN. I filmed a video so that you can see how I set it up. The main idea is that I used a @chrisella09 fabric wallet insert to hold cash and additional cards, and I used the extra elastic to piggy back the fabric insert with a ChicSparrow insert to serve as a catch-all notebook.

 

 

Work TN Setup

At the moment, I am using the Midori Blue as my work TN. It goes with me to meetings, and I use it mainly for note taking and research more than planning. Here’s a closer look on how I set up this stamdard size traveler’s notebook.

The first insert I have, which is also the outermost insert, is a Refill 007 (Card File), a standard size accessory that has 12 credit card pockets. On the front half I put a few sheets of post its (anchored on a playing card) and page flags, along with three plain paper clips.

I have a Pan Am shitajiki, or pencil board, attached to the front of my first notebook with a small binder clip on top. I don’t usually use the pencil board, but I like to have it handy in case I do need it.

Due to the sensitive nature of my work notes, I cannot show you the inside of my first notebook. It is, however, a standard size grid insert by Planners and Journals. I also have a few sheets of a larger post it stuck on the last page, as well as a few sheets of a long list pad attached with a binder clip. A small notation can be seen on the bottom corner of the notebook cover, to remind me of the insert maker.

Next we come to my second notebook insert, which is just a plain white one that I made myself out of Bevenia Splendorgel paper (works great with fountain pens!). Speaking of fountain pens, I have a couple of bigger binder clips on the covers of both notebook inserts to serve as my pen loops.

Here is a little peek inside the second notebook insert, which serves as my notes taker for learning the statistical programming language R. As you can see I write very rapidly here so the handwriting is not really my best.


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At the back is the second half of the card file refill, which holds some washi samples, an emergency supply of my preferred sugar substitute (for those impromptu coffee meetings!), and a band aid. I also like to keep a few sheets of tissue paper here just because I like to be prepared, and it doesn’t add much to the weight.


And there we have it! My work TN is very simple and practical, and I’ve been using this setup for several months now.

Chicsparrow Deluxe Creme Brulee Pocket TN

One of the items on my TN wishlist has been the Chicsparrow Deluxe Creme Brulee, ever since I received my Pocket Classic Outlander. I really enjoyed the leather and workmanship and I knew I wanted a deluxe (a TN with pockets). The creme leather has been a staple recommendation in many TN groups, and I knew I wanted to own one. Back in November I was able to snag a discount during Black Friday, and after a long period of waiting (44 days exactly) it is finally in my hands!

The TN came wrapped in a dust bag made of this incredible suede-like cloth. It’s lovely! I’m definitely using this bag a lot!

And here she is, all set up to be my TN wallet. The Creme Brulee color is a right golden brown, and my particular piece came with interesting markings and striations on the front cover, almost like she has veins. The leather is quite stiff and thick, but I expect it will soften up with time and use.

The back shows the distinctive Chicsparrow branding.

Check out the view of the entire leather!

Here’s a quick video I made of a flipthrough of my TN wallet.

 

For those who are unable to view videos, here are some photos of the flip through.

In the front pockets I store most of my cards, identification, credit, and membership/rewards cards. I also use the back full-length pocket for this purpose, because I really have way too many cards that I bring everyday.

The first insert is a cloth insert made by @chrisella09 on Instagram. The left side are more card pockets, and the right is a zipper pocket where I store my cash.

The second insert is Ray Blake’s Daily Log Book insert, which I purchased from him as a printed book (instead of printable, because I didn’t want to have to cut my own this time). I use this as a sort of one-line daily journal. It’ll be interesting to look back at it when the year is done.

The last insert is a Field Notes Snowblind Edition, which I use as a catch-all notebook. At the back of this book I have attached a Leuchtturm pen loop to hold my very portable Pilot Birdie ballpoint pen.


At the very end of the TN is a secretarial pocket, where I put my doctor’s prescriptions, receipts, coupons, and random loose paper. There is also a built-in pen loop which is currently unused since one of my inserts has its own pen loop.

Overall I am super pleased with the Chicsparrow Deluxe Creme. The leather is lovely, smells great, and is not too heavy. The workmanship is of course quite excellent. The only thing that’s really difficult about ordering from Chicsparrow is the length of time it takes to arrive in the Philippines, but I do think it is worth it.

 

Jaquie Ang Hobonichi Weeks Cover and Pocket TN

One (well, two) of my biggest splurges this year is a pair of custom pieces made by a local leather artisan called Jaquie Ang. After ogling her Instagram account for a while, I bit the bullet and got myself a matched Hobonichi Weeks cover and a pocket sized TN in her denim gray leather. As they were both customized according to my specifications, it took about six weeks to finish but I’m happy to have gotten it before Christmas. Let me show you the jewels of my collection.

The denim gray leather is extremely supple and pliable, just the way I like it. It’s also the type of leather that marks very easily; in fact, it arrived having scratches already and it’s beautiful! Let’s take a closer look at each one.


The one I really wanted to get was the Weeks cover. While I do like the red cover that I previously had, it was obviously bigger and wider than the Weeks. The one I requested fit the Weeks like a glove, and I specified that I wanted to have the cover in cover included in the fit. It didn’t come with an external closure because I wanted the option of it being just a sleeve. I made my own elastic closure in case I want to travel with the Weeks kept shut.


The insides were kept very simple, with two full length pockets on both sides and a small secretarial pocket on the front. The back pocket is the one that anchors the Weeks (cover on cover included), while the front full pocket holds my stickers and the tiny secretarial pocket holds my Hobonichi stencil. The design isn’t really groundbreaking, but it suits my purposes very well.

I also requested a built-in pen loop on the back cover, and specified the size of pens I wanted it to fit. The pen loop is sturdy, and does in fact fit the fattest pens I normally use (Coletos and the Hobonichi pen).


Since I was already ordering a custom piece, I decided to get myself a matching pocket TN to serve as my wallet. It uses the same incredibly supple denim gray leather, and this one did come with an external elastic (though I did change it to red when I set both up).


The interior is again made to my specifications. There are full length pockets on both sides, like the Weeks cover. The additional pockets are two credit card pockets in front and a large secretarial pocket in the back. Actually I didn’t order the full length pocket at the back, but Jaquie put it in for free for structural integrity because the leather as I mentioned is really pliable. 

The TN has six internal elastics because oftentimes I like to stuff my TNs, and because of that the spine came reinforced. At the moment I using only two of the elastics but I like having the extras for future need.

Overall I’m very very happy with these two. They did not come cheap, but I feel like I got my money’s worth on both if these pieces. Did I mention they smell wonderful? If you are interested in checking out Jaquie’s other work, you could find her on both Instagram and Facebook, just search for Jaquie Ang. 

Red Unbranded Weeks Cover

I really enjoy looking around stationery and bookstores for interesting things, and one of the these interesting things that I discovered is this very affordable standard size traveler’s notebook, which I turned into a cover for my Hobonichi Weeks. Why did I call it unbranded? It is because I could find zero traces of branding on the TN. It was actually advertised as a notepad holder, and it came with an actual notepad (mine has already been claimed by my daughter, so I couldn’t show it to you). What caught my eye is the color (a nice bright Christmassy red) and the weight (very light).

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I am pretty sure it is made of faux leather, but I have to say that the workmanship is pretty good. Let’s take a look at the outside first. On the cover is a weird blue-foiled sentence that says “Hello. I am your best friend I hope to make you dally life to be full of funny energy” which makes me think that the maker is not a native English speaker. The blue foiling is very pretty and contrasts well with the red material, but it is already beginning to fade in parts.

The elastic closure is very thick elastic, and is threaded with a metal plate stamped with “My First Step” which I thought was pretty cool. Except that it keeps wanting to turn over, and most of the time you cannot see the stamping anyway. I couldn’t figure out how to remove this metal plate without cutting off the cord, so I kept it on there as it doesn’t bother me too badly.

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The inside of the traveler’s notebook is the treasure! It comes with awesome stitched pockets! Before we focus on the pockets, I would just like to briefly point out that the TN comes with only a single elastic, and it is the same type of elastic as the outside one. As I am not actually using this as a TN, I just ignore this inside elastic. There is a felt-like fabric on the inside of the faux leather, and it is in a pleasing light blue shade that matches my Hobonichi pen.

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The left side of the cover has this interesting pocket configuration. There’s a smaller, credit-card-sized pocket on top (which I use to hold the elastic closure for the Weeks), a bigger pocket below that which I use to hold a stencil and several sticker sheets, and under all of that there is a full-length pocket that I use to hold even more sticker sheets. The shape of the pockets are very pretty and unique, and the stitching seems to be acceptable enough.

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The right side only has a full-length pocket to match the one on the left, and into this pocket I slide the back cover of the Weeks (cover on cover included!). As you can see here, there’s a small slit near the top of the pocket, where the notepad was intended to be slipped into. In here I just inserted a Weeks notebook, and there is just enough space to slide in a second pen by its clip. I also put in a small set of decorative sticky notes into the big pocket.

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Here is how it looks like when closed. The Hobonichi pen goes into the pen holder I have in the Weeks, and the Zebra Sarasa into the notepad holder, and they both seem to fit snugly into the overhang space.

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Here it is compared to my Blue Traveler’s Company TN. It pretty much has the same dimensions, although it will appear bulkier because of the pockets.

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The height is exactly the same.

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Actually the thickness doesn’t seem too different from this angle.

I’m very fortunate to discover this TN, and for the amazing price of only Php250! It’s a great Weeks cover, and I foresee using it until my custom Weeks cover arrives in December.

 

Planners and Journals October Planner Kit (Insertless)

It’s been a while since I subscribed to a monthly planner kit, and the reason for that is more of my having too much stuff than I can use. I had stopped subscribing for nearly a year. What made me interested again was Planners and Journals releasing their “insertless” kits! Don’t mistake me though; PnJ makes really awesome inserts, but as of yet they do not make pocket size inserts for their kits. Insertless kits are the next best thing, and at Php100 less than the usual kit price it seemed pretty reasonable. Knowing PnJ’s quality, I did not hesitate to sign up for three months.

 

 

The first month that had the insertless option was October, and October’s theme is Tea Party. Score! I love tea themes, and the overall color scheme of this kit is just awesome. I immediately filmed an unboxing in my Instagram Stories (follow me!) even though the lighting wasn’t that great. I finally got the chance to take photos for a closer look at the items in the kit. Without further ado, here are everything I got in the October Tea Party Planner Kit!

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For some reason, I focused on a big-to-small sequence. The first things that caught my eye are the papers included. PnJ, if you recall from my previous kit shares, always includes two or three sheets of cardstock that they designed for the kit. This month’s papers are stunning! I am loving the pastel blue and green color scheme with accents of rose pink and blueberry purple. Delicious!

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I’m also very happy when I saw three sheets of matching planner stickers. These are lovely designs, and I can’t wait to stick them into my planner (and journals, actually!). What I really like about these stickers are the size profile – it fits perfectly in my Hobonichi Weeks as if it’s made for that!

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Next in the kit comes two sets of beautifully designed note paper, measuring 9×11.5cm. There are ten sheets for each of the two designs, and the paper feels pretty good as per PnJ’s standards. The only problem I am facing with these is that it’s too cute to use! I must fight the tendency to hoard!

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The kit also gave a set of six journaling cards in the same theme, and boy are they triggering my hoarding tendencies too!

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Next we have a gigantic cupcake made of thick acrylic (below right), and at first I had no clue what this thing was supposed to be. It was too big and heavy to mount on a paperclip. I figured it’s probably meant to be a sort of drink coaster. I also received a cute little handmade paperclip with a gold-and-pink bow, which is always a nice touch. Perhaps my only issue with the bow clip is that it feels a little out of theme.

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Lastly we have a set of cute little ephemera in the same theme. There’s a good variety of designs, but again there’s the idea that it’s too cute to use! My favorite here are the stacked cups, super cute!

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I am very happy to have subscribed with PnJ again. I feel that Php550 per month is a very reasonable price for what I am getting, even without inserts. Check out Planners and Journals’ Instagram account for more info if you want your own kits!

 

Cristina Gomes Burgundy Personal TN

One of the new TN makers I’ve been following in Instagram and Facebook groups is Cristina Gomes. She is from Portugal and makes the TNs herself. I fell in love with her Burgundy leather, and decided to get one in personal size, to serve as my wallet with my Hobonichi Weeks. There was a bit of a wait since she cuts and assembles the TN after each order, and of course there’s the standard shipping wait.

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The TN arrived and I had to find the time to come pick it up from the post office. I could barely stand knowing it’s here and I couldn’t pick it up! Finally I got it in my hands! The Burgundy is such a wonderful leather, deep dark red and almost brown really. It was stiff, especially with the pockets, but it feels like it will soften in time. It is also the kind of leather that keeps dings and marks, although it can be rubbed out slightly.

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I immediately set it up with my Weeks and I was relieved that it fit! I also blinged it out with some charms.

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There’s a look at the entire outside. As you can see the leather already has quite a lot of scratches. It came with black elastics as I had requested. Cristina’s logo is stamped unobtrusively on the back.

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The front has a series of seven card pockets, with a larger full-length pocket behind it. This is primarily what makes this side of the TN stiff, since there’s a lot of layers of leather here. The presence of the cards makes it even stiffer, but I’m not really bothered by that. The TN also has four inner elastics. I strung the Weeks on the back two, and the wallet/card insert on the frontmost. At the time that these photos are taken I did not yet have a personal sized wallet insert, so I made do with a pocket sized.

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The back of the TN featured a simple secretarial pocket, which is great for quick-access stuff such as cash. The pen loop is also attached here with the same stitching. The pen loop is very generous and can take really fat pens. Perhaps my only issue here is that the leather is a little bit too thick and some clips have difficulty gripping it. The Pilot Metropolitan as shown here luckily has a strong grip and manages well in the pen loop.

Overall I’m very pleased with the Cristina Gomes Burgundy Personal TN. It’s very well-made, reasonably priced, and the leather is beautiful! If you want to find out more about her other works, check out her Instagram.

 

Planning Dilemma: Hobonichi Weeks Vs Pocket Planning

I am honestly having a lot of trouble with my planning system right now, and not because it’s not working. It actually works! I find that I work best with a weekly view, with the days of the week on one side and a notes page on the opposite side. My dilemma is as follows: I am a huge fan of Hobonichi Weeks, and I’ve found a great planning system with its weekly views and the other features of the planner. In fact, I was able to spend about five months of continuous planning in it.

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On the other hand, I have recently discovered that I work just as well with the pocket size version of the Hobonichi Weeks. And by this I mean the weekly planner insert of CN Papercrafts works really well for me. As long as I have an accompanying bullet journal to help document my days, I can use with the smaller amount of space for my day to day planning needs.

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Now that the 2017 release of Hobonichi has come out, I am starting to again think that the Weeks is the planner for me. The moment I saw the Meow Meow Meow Weeks, I felt a really huge pull to get it (the cats were such a tease too!). To make things even harder for me (or easier, depends on how you look at it), there are several merchants who offer preorder service so I don’t really even have to mess with customs or post office. Perhaps the only disadvantage of this is the relatively steep price of the Weeks to begin with. It’s really quite the investment.

Image credits: 1101.com
Image credits: 1101.com

On the other hand again, I have a tremendous amount of pocket TNs that will remain unused. For the most part, I only have one in active use; maybe two at most, if I am feeling a lot of writing mojo. If I used the pocket size weekly planner insert as my main planner, then I would be able to really put into use my pocket TNs and it would justify the original purchase of them instead of just sitting pretty on the shelf. At least this way too, I don’t have to shell out a huge amount of money for planning for next year, since my current insert can handle 7 months already. If I really stretch, I could even use up my pocket insert stash and hand-draw the weekly layouts myself!

Pocket TNs, charms, and a lone fountain pen

A post shared by Becoming Sleek (@becomingsleek) on

 

I’m not really sure what I should do! What do you think?

 

Gutsy Artdori A6 TNs

When I heard that Airees of Aireescreates was coming out with a new collection, I was immediately intrigued. When it was revealed that for the first time, she was going to be offering the A6 size, I knew that I had to get one. If you don’t remember, Airees released a previous collection entitled Musings in Color and I got myself the Words TN, which remains in my collection as a revered holder of journal inserts.

Gutsy, the new collection, has a crinkled effect but still uses the same leather-strong abaca paper formula. Read more about this collection here. For now, let me show you what I got!

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Does it surprise you to discover that I got the red one? I actually got two A6 TNs from the Gutsy line: the Rojo (red) and the Camello (camel). You can really see the crinkled paper but let me assure you that this does not at all give the feeling of fragility. The material feels like it can take a lot of abuse!

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The Rojo A6 comes with cream stitching and red elastics. I might switch out the red outer elastic for a black one later on for better contrast.

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It comes with pockets made of the same material, in a full-length style on both sides.

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It also comes with two A6 inserts. These inserts are pretty awesome! They have 120gsm weight paper inside with 32 pages, enclosed with special handmade covers with interesting plant ephemera embedded in it. These two inserts fill up the TN nicely.

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Here is the Rojo Artdori beside my pocket-size Chicsparrow Outlander. They have roughly the same height, but the Artdori is a bit wider.

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The Camello has much of the same features. It comes with cream stitching and brown elastics, and also two A6 inserts.

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Overall I’m really quite pleased with these two. I can’t wait to start using them! They seem really perfect for art journaling or artistic uses, and the pockets are a great way to hold various journaling stuff.

The Gutsy Collection is available at Airees’ online store and I think she has also started stocking at Common Room. The A6 costs Php450 while the Standard size costs Php550, although I got mine for slightly less because I was able to catch the preorder period in early August. Artdoris are perfect for those who prefer non-animal derived products, and those who, like me, enjoy supporting local makers.

 

Setup of TN Wallet (September 2016)

I’m really enjoying using my Dark Brown Macata as a TN Wallet. I’ve moved in and have been using it for the past two weeks and so far it’s been going great! Here’s how I set it up.

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The wallet part of the TN wallet is mostly the same as the one in my Blue Passport Macata. I’m going straight to the planner part.

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My first insert is the weekly insert by CN Papercrafts. I decorated the front with alpha stickers and a cute little sticker by @kraftrina.

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Right inside the planner I stuck a sheet of decorative paper and a motivational sticker on the front page. On the back of the cover I stuck a pocket from the Tiny Stickers that I found before, with a sheet of glitter stars in it. In front of it I stuck on a sticky note with my shopping list.

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The bulk of the insert is of course the weekly planner, with the days of the week on one side situated horizontally, and grid paper on the opposite side. This is basically how the Hobonichi Weeks is laid out, so it’s not a huge adjustment to move here for me. The only thing the insert was missing was a monthly view, which was easily remedied with a simple print out of a calendar that I searched online. I tipped it in at the start of the month with some washi.

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The back of the weekly planner holds my favorite Post Its, and another pocket that holds a small sheet of marker stickers. This is also where I installed a penloop substitute that holds my go-to pen of the moment (Pilot Prera).

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The second insert is the 100gsm cream unlined insert by CN Papercrafts, and I assigned this to be my Bullet Journal. This is actually something new for me, and I am still trying to get used to it. Prior to moving to this TN Wallet, I had incorporated some sort of bullet journaling into my Hobonichi Weeks since I did have a lot of space in the grid area opposite the weekly layout. Since I am using a much reduced size, I needed to transfer the short-hand journaling to another form, and this is how I chose to try it.

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I decorated the inside of the cover again with some nice decorative paper and another motivational sticker, and below that I have a sticky note with my current bullet journal bullet code. I started on the first page right away, and I find that I mostly use it to log events that happen that are not in my standard routine.

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The back of the journal is currently blank except for another pocket that holds another small sheet of stickers, this time of cute little colorful flags.

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Which brings us to the end of the TN Wallet. To summarize, I have my wallet inserts and two notebooks inside this TN Wallet, and it brings me to a nice, compact, chunky package that I can chuck into my purse easily.

I filmed a flip through of my TN Wallet, and it shows a bit more of the wallet inserts here in case you want to see it in detail.

 

Will I be staying with this setup? I sure hope so! I really do like the pocket size a lot, and I’m quite happy to be back to this size even though I really liked Hobonichi Weeks.