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. 

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?

 

TN Setup: July 2016

As I have mentioned in my last EDC post, I have moved back into the Foxyfix Wanderlust in Espresso. I have decided to streamline my carry and only bring along the most active of my pocket inserts. Let me show you how my TN is currently set up.

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As you can see from the photos, the TN has gotten a lot more dings and indentations in the leather. It’s starting to show use and character! Here’s a view of the top of the TN, where my tabs and bookmarks are shown.

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When first opened, the Foxyfix vinyl dashboard is revealed. In the front part I have a scrap piece of decorated cardstock as well as my car maintenance booklet whose front cover fits just right in the dashboard.

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Inside the dashboard, after the car maintenance booklet, is my first insert. This Word. notebook serves as my current Book of Lists, and holds stuff like wishlists, addresses, package tracker, quotes, and things like that.

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The back of the vinyl dashboard is yet another piece of scrap cardstock. The next insert is an Alunsina lined insert which serves as a record of my hobby expenses. I used a pink paperclip to denote my current place in this book.

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The next insert is my blog planner, which is a small unlined Moleskine cahier notebook. I’m still continuing in my current format, which I find to be really how I like planning my blog.

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The last insert is an Alunsina graph insert which is my current journal insert. I’m nearly to the end of this book, and I’m already considering what my next one will be.

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And here is the very back of the TN. I’ve started decorating the journal insert since I’m about to finish it, and I really like how this vintage-y sticker looks against the bright blue of the insert.

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At this point I’m very happy with my current setup. This will probably change as soon as I feel uncomfortable with one part of it or another, but at the moment this is what works for me.

 

EDC TN: June 2016

My Purse

I’m a little disappointed that I will not be able to show you anything different here. There is a new setup in the works for my purse, but certain things haven’t arrived yet so I am actually still using the same setup as I have for the last two months (SLC TN Wallet + Hobonichi Weeks).

My Work Bag

I really enjoyed using the Foxyfix Wanderlust in Espresso so I continued using it. I also wanted to see how an undyed leather develops its patina, so I fielded the PocketJot Natural to hold the rest of my active inserts. I have not wanted to change my pen case in a long time, so I continue to use my purple Nabel pencase.

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My Work Desk

I went back to using my Midori Blue limited edition, because honestly I like it better than the black one. It also matches the colors of my company, which gives me a certain satisfaction since I’m using this as my work notebook.

 

Jot Misfits

Around the same time that I ordered the Chicsparrow Outlander, Jot had a massive Misfits sale at their Etsy store. I like Jot TNs a lot and I got two previously. It was not hard to imagine that I fell headfirst into that sale.

What are Misfits? They are basically Jot traveler’s notebooks that did not make it one way or another through Jot owner Cori’s exacting standards. They were sold at a steep discount because of that. I found myself getting four (yes, four!). The first two are PocketJots, TNs that are pocket sized. The first one is called Natural, because of the undyed state of the leather. I don’t have many undyed leather TNs and I wanted to see how the patina will develop over use.

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The PocketJot Natural came with black elastics, and the inside of the cover is also left undyed and has a nice suede feel to it. The leather itself is very pliable and soft, and retains marks quite easily.

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The second PocketJot I got is in Premium Brown. This is a new leather type that Cori started offering, and I thought it was the perfect time to try them out. This chocolate brown leather is a bit stiffer than the Natural, but still quite pliable. You can also see just how easily this leather retains marks, with only a few weeks of use. Such a character it will develop!

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The Premium Brown also came with black elastics (4 inner elastics for this and Natural), and the inside of the leather also has that suede feel. There are some identifying marks on the inside, and as I understand this came from the original leather that this piece was cut from. I’m really enjoying this feature; it makes my TN rather unique!

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Cori had several sizes of Misfits available, and I was not able to resist this cute little guy. It’s called SweetBabyJot (micro size) in Coffee Bean. This is my second TN of this size (the first was a Zenkraft), and I loved the color striations of this one. It helped that the leather was named Coffee Bean!

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It came with black elastics (2 inner). The inside of the cover is quite intriguing. The texture is rough, and there are several shades of brown, black, and white on there. The leather is on the pliable side.

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The last of my purchase is this intriguing little thing. It is called MiniJot (passport size) in Sidekick Prototype, and it is rather unique. It is generally black, with a dark red inner color that runs across the spine to the other side. I could not resist getting this because red and black is my favorite color combination.

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Check out the design on the spine. I think it’s quite cool!

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This leather is pliable as well, and has a suede-y inside. It is cut in a manner that allows it to have 4 inner elastics but can hold 8 inserts quite comfortably.

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Really, it looks like it can hold even more, maybe up to 10 inserts without overhang. Quite an interesting little piece! Cori mentioned in her listing that this was supposed to be a prototype design for someone else that did not succeed, and lucky for me she put it up for sale anyway!

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At the moment I think she has no more Misfits on sale, but she assures that she will have another Misfit sale around the same time. Do watch out for it! Check out Jot’s current offerings here.

 

Elias Paper Pocket Inserts

One of the things I enjoy making are my own pocket inserts. I’ve recently discovered the Elias Paper, available at Everything Calligraphy in loose sheets. Actually Elias makes inserts, but only in standard and passport sizes, so I am happy that I am able to buy loose sheets to make my own pocket sized inserts. This paper is quite amazing! It is about as thick as standard copy paper, but it is versatile in what sort of media it can take. Elias paper is known to be very friendly to fountain pens, which is really the main reason I wanted Elias paper inserts.

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I use a variety of cardstock as my cover. This particular insert has been my journal for about a month, after which I switched over to another of my DIY Elias paper pocket inserts.

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Here is how the paper performs with different pens/pencil. I used a variety of nib sizes of fountain pens as well, and practically none of them bled through the other side, and there is also barely any showthrough either.

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I like using this paper for my brush calligraphy practice.

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I also tried using watercolor on Elias paper, and it also behaved quite nicely. In fact, the watercolor dries pretty quickly on this paper. I used a Simbalion watercolor set with a water brush.

Suffice to say, I am quite in love with Elias paper, and I am happy I got quite a bit of sheets left to make me journal inserts for the rest of the year or so. I’m also happy that I can easily get more from Everything Calligraphy, although it would be nice to also buy ready-made inserts.

 

EDC TN: March 2016

There’s only one change I made from my February EDC, and that is switching out my Speckled Fawns Rustic Kodiak to two non-chunky TNs.

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These two are the Red Macata TN by CN Papercrafts and a red PocketJot by Jot respectively. Between them they hold my 8 active pocket inserts and an A6 photo album that serves as a repository for stickers and washi samplers. The reason I changed the setup is because I figured I only needed to bring one home all the time (the PocketJot) while the other can stay in the office most of the time. In the interest of my shoulders’ health, I wanted to lighten my load as much as possible and this is what I came up with.

I’m foreseeing a larger change come the April EDC report, as I’m feeling a bit of a need of change. Stay tuned for that post!

 

Current Pocket Sized Inserts: March 2016

While I am still using most of the inserts I discussed last January, I added a few new inserts to my stable. This first one isn’t really a new addition, but I did finish my daily journal insert and needed a new one. At first I was planning to use Tomoe River paper for my journal insert, but I was concerned that I would not be able to attach ephemera to the journal effectively because the paper is very thin. Good thing that Everything Calligraphy started carrying loose Elias paper, which is a great deal thicker but performs just as well fountain pen-wise. I got myself a pack and made my first couple of Elias paper pocket insert.

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This insert came out really thick! I used 20 sheets, which makes 40 pages for the journal insert, but the thickness of the insert came out at about 7-8mm! In comparison, a Word. notebook is only 4mm thick. The paper is just perfect though! It really works very well with fountain pen inks, and can take washi tape, stamp inks, stickers, and ephemera quite well. I’m pretty confident that it will take watercolor just as nicely.

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The second insert I am now using is my creative journal. I said previously that I had failed doing creative journaling in a couple of attempts, but I wanted to keep trying. I determined that perhaps the problem was the size, as I had been using the standard and A5 sizes for that purpose and I found that there was just too much space. I decided to try again in a pocket size, and printed out a weekly planner format from Growing Up Goddess in Etsy on Bevenia Splendorgel paper. It’s thinner than Elias paper, is very smooth, and works very well with all sorts of pens.

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I’m really liking the layout, the size, and the paper of this insert. I believe that this is now more sustainable, and I will be able to keep up with my creative journaling now!

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The last of the new pocket inserts I’m using is one I have made a couple of months back. It is made of the near-miraculous Tomoe River paper, and I cut and bound this myself.

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I have decided to use it as an Ink Journal. I have recently ordered quite a few fountain pen ink samplers, and I wanted to have a good place to store my thoughts about each of the inks I come across. This way, I can look back and see if I liked an ink or not, and it will help me decide if I really want to buy a full bottle. Tomoe River paper really shines here, because it can take just about any type of ink written with any type of fountain pen. It’s perfect as an Ink Journal!

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As of the moment, I have an active 8 pocket inserts stored in two pocket sized traveler’s notebooks. I feel like I have found a good mix of inserts for the near future, and I am very happy with all of them.

 

 

Traveler’s Notebook Features: Inside Elastic

Welcome to Traveler’s Notebook Features. Here I intend to show the basic options that traveler’s notebooks come in. For this installment, let’s take a look at the inside elastic.

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There are several ways that the inside elastics are configured for different traveler’s notebooks. The earliest ones are similar to the one pictured above. This is the Midori-style inside elastic, where there is technically only one elastic to hold notebooks. The elastic is threaded through two holes on the top and bottom, and the holes are arranged in a vertical manner. The TN above is from Planners and Journals.

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Another configuration is having those two holes arranged in a horizontal manner, such as the one pictured above. This allows for that same elastic to be threaded in such a way that there are now “two” elastics that can be used to hold notebooks. One of the caveats of this configuration is that the material should not be too soft. The arrangement of the elastic will cause humps to form on the spine near the holes if the material is not sturdy enough. The TN pictured above is from CN Papercrafts.

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The two-elastic configuration can be further extended into a four-elastic one, using the same hole configuration. One can either take a very long elastic and string it twice through the holes, or take two elastics of the same length and thread them the same manner through the holes. The end result is four elastics that can be used to hold notebooks. The TN pictured above is by Jot.

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The creation of more holes in the spine allows for even more varied inside elastic configurations, and end up with a greater number of elastics to hold notebooks. The caveat here of course is that the more holes you put in the spine, the stiffer the spine needs to be to hold all that tension. The TN pictured above by Speckled Fawns has a reinforced spine to be able to accommodate six elastics.

It really depends on how you are using your traveler’s notebook, to determine how many inside elastics you will need. Fortunately there are a lot of resources online to find examples of the specific TNs you are eyeing to see how they would look with the notebooks installed, so that you have a better idea of how it is going to look in use. Check out TN-specific Facebook groups for such photos!

Traveler’s Notebook Features