My Chic Sparrow Pocket TN Collection

Among the various options for traveler’s notebooks, the pocket size is really the one that seems to fit well with me. One of my favorite TN brands is Chic Sparrow, and at the moment, I have five pocket TNs of various leathers and configurations.

Here’s a quick review of each of these pocket TNs:

First the classics:

Outlander Jitney Red – This is possibly my most flexible Chic Sparrow. The leather simply bends without resistance, and molds quite attractively around the inserts. It’s not really any sort of red honestly, but it remains one of my favorites because of the suppleness. It marks quite easily too.

Odyssey Penelope – I got this from a second chance sale. As far as I know, Odysseys are basically Mr. Darcy leather that has been pre-distressed. The one I got is a very dark brown, quite stiff, and very distressed. I’m thinking of rolling it a bit more to soften up the leather, since I am no longer worried about damaging the leather since it’s already distressed.

Mr. Darcy Amaretto – As I have been looking for a nice, brightly hued red TN for a while, I did not hesitate to get this one when it released even though Mr. Darcy leathers are often stiff. I’m not too concerned that it will show scuffs and marks, but I would love this to be a bit more flexible. I would have gotten the Pemberly Poppy which is basically the same shade of red, but I thought I’d like to try this one first. Amaretto is possibly my favorite TN right now.

Then the deluxes:

Creme Brulee – Creme leathers are very luscious and tactile, and this one is very enjoyable to hold and caress. The pockets make it a bit chunky, but it doesn’t detract from the softness of the leather.

Pemberly Tenerife Sea – I also got this one from a second chance sale, and I am glad to get a bright colored one. Tenerife Sea is very hard to capture on camera, since it can range anywhere from blue, teal, and green. Pemberly leathers are also quite flexible, and this one is also quite pebbly.

I’ve been trying out a new filming setup, and I thought I’d test it out with a showcase of my Chic Sparrow pocket TN collection.



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.



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.


What I Packed: Cebu 2016

My family went on a very delayed beach vacation to Mactan, Cebu last weekend, and as per my habit I take photos of what I took with me in the stationery department. While I had my Hobonichi Weeks and my TN Wallet as is expected, I also brought along my Chicsparrow Outlander with journal inserts as well as the Midori Mini. I felt that I wanted to journal while at the resort, and I wanted TNs that could stand the rigors of travel.


My pencase contained only regular and brush pens, because I did not want to have to worry about fountain pens and flying. I brought along my cute little Crayola gel pens (which did not get used), a Sharpie (also unused), a Coleto (unused), two dual-ended markers, a brush pen, and a mechanical pencil. The rest of the case contained much of the same contents as in this post.


I’m glad that I actually did get to journal during the three-day vacation, and even while waiting for our delayed flight. Having a journal is really quite handy and comforting!




Chicsparrow Pocket Outlander in Jitney Red

One of the more well-known non-local TN makers is Chicsparrow. Jennifer Harvey is the creator and head of her company, and her traveler’s notebooks are really quite well done. I had always wanted to try one but of course shipping is always the issue when ordering overseas. One day in March I saw that the rare Outlander leather in the color I wanted, Jitney Red, came in stock. I had also heard that this leather will be phased out soon, so I bit the bullet when I saw that particular color in stock. I wanted to get two to maximize shipping, but I could only get one at that time.

After around 20 days I finally received the notice from the post office that my Chicsparrow package had arrived, and I at once went to claim it. Luckily I did not need to pay any customs fees beyond the standard Php112 processing fee. And here she is!


Jitney Red isn’t quite as red as I had imagined it. It was really more of a dark brown with maybe red tones in certain lights. The Outlander leather is quite pliable as promised, very squishy, and smells wonderful. I immediately gave it one of my cute buttons for instant personalization, and I really like how it looks.


There is the Chicsparrow branding stamped at the back. Actually I had the option (for a fee, I think) to add embossing of my own choice at the front of the cover, 15 characters maximum, but I left it off in case I did not fall in love with the TN. I thought it would be easier to resell without the embossing. Anyway there was no need to worry, since I did immediately fall in love with it the moment I had it in my hands! It gave me confidence that I probably will add embossing for my next order.


I did add the optional stitching in white. The contrasting color looks really great with this leather. The stitching is very even and perfectly placed. The closing band originates from the spine, and both the outside and inside elastics are of this tan/brown shade. The Outlander leather is quite prone to retaining even the most minor of scratches. I got the very first one at the back when I first tried to play with the outside elastic, and it is quite visible from afar. It would probably bother some people, but I am of the camp that likes having marks like this.


The inside of the leather has a slight suede feel, and is of a lighter color than the outside. There are four inside elastics, and the TN can hold 4-6 pocket inserts. I am currently using this to hold some of my regularly used inserts.

Chicsparrow does not come cheap, and with the international shipping fee it really is quite the investment. The price goes up the bigger the size of the TN, of course, so I’m quite happy that I’ve found my calling in the pocket size. I am very happy with my purchase, and I am already planning to get another one in the Deluxe line (the one with pockets), something preferably very red.



EDC TN: April 2016

Something completely different this month compared to February’s!

My Purse

Since I’ve received the SLC TN Wallet a few weeks ago, I immediately moved in and it became my wallet and portable notebook that I always keep in my purse. I also got myself a Hobonichi Weeks at around the same time, and moved into it as well as my planner. The thinness and almost weightlessness of this planner made it possible to keep it with me all the time in my purse, which is how I really prefer it.


My Work Bag

My pen case remains the same, but my TNs have changed. I’m now carrying the Chicsparrow Pocket Outlander in Jitney Red and my new Midori Passport in Camel, both of which are holding my active pocket notebooks.


I like how my EDC have changed. The variety of it keeps me entertained, and I get to rotate the TNs and give some of them a rest. I am certainly very pleased with the ones I am currently using.



Traveler’s Notebook Features: Border Stitching

The next traveler’s notebook feature we are focusing on is border stitching. This usually comes built in when a maker offers pockets with their TN. For example, this one from Speckled Fawns called Rustic Kodiak has lots of pockets and results in a nice border stitching that goes around the front and back covers as well as the spine.


We also have this one from Sunday Leather Craft that has the same type of border stitching. The thread used for the stitching would usually match the leather, although some makers would also offer stitching in a contrasting color.


Some makers offer standalone border stitching for an extra fee. This one from Chicsparrow has border stitching but as it is in their Classic line it does not come with pockets. The contrasting color (white) looks really great against the brown of the leather, and it is mostly for this aesthetic purpose that I prefer getting stitching for my TNs.



Traveler’s Notebook Features