23 Sep 2020

archer and olive 160gsm a5 dot grid fabric cover notebooks

As I've decided to give bullet journaling a go at some point in the near future (this might be a case of just 'shut up and get on with it' as I've been putting it off for a few months now), I need the right materials for it. And by materials, I mean notebook. I can't imagine not using my fountain pens or pigmented fineliners in it so I knew it had to have good quality paper and be of a size that would be portable enough for daily use.

A5 is a sure bet for me - it's a size I'm very much used to and having toted an A5 notebook to work everyday for a whole year, I know it works.

In terms of paper, 90gsm is standard for the Leuchtturm 1917 and Rhodia notebooks. I know I like it but I do wonder if there would be too much showthrough for me to be comfortable with. Enter some research I did which led me down a rabbit-hole... which then led me to Archer and Olive. This is not a sponsored post - I'm just a happy customer.

Archer and Oliver is run by Bonnie Kuhl from across the Atlantic.What really enticed me was that Archer and Olive are named after Bonnie's two cats. If that isn't adorable, I don't know what is.

When this notebook arrived, I was impressed by the packaging. It comes in a beautiful thick cardboard box which I will definitely be using in the future to store little trinkets in.

The notebook is wrapped in a single sheet of card and there is a card sleeve displaying the notebook's qualities too. It's great that all of the packaging shown here is readily recyclable. Unfortunately, what you can't see is that it actually came wrapped in plastic which I put in my recycling bin anyway but am still dubious about its capacity for re-use.

I opted for the 'morning sun' design for a few personal reasons and I really do like it's bright, happy, yellow hue. The fabric cover feels very hardy and the elastic closure looks like it is sturdy enough to put up with me potentially overstuffing this notebook.

Although this notebook is only 160 pages, it is as thick as my notebooks that are 192 pages. This is because of the epic 160gsm paper.

This notebook comes with two ribbon page markers which is ideal for what I intend to use it for: bullet journaling. One ribbon can be for 'today' and the other can be at a page of importance (i.e. goals for the year).

It also comes with a pen holder which is stretchy enough for my fountain pen of choice: my Pilot Kakuno. It's surprising how such a cheap fountain pen (it only cost me about £8 at the time) is one of the ones I reach for time and time again.

The interior is as you would expect: a page at the front for your details and then the dot grid pages, ready for use as whatever your heart desires.

I'm not going to lie: I'm very excited about using this. I also have a dot-grid Papier notebook which needs using and it'll be a tough choice to see which one gets used first. There is a part of me that thinks I should use the Papier first because if I use this 160gsm paper first, nothing else will compare. As a self-confessed paper snob, this notebook will do nothing to change that part of my personality!

2 Sep 2020

ink: organics studio fountain pen ink - aldous huxley old world blue

I'm a sucker for sheen and Organics Studio is known for the infamous Walden Pond ink which sheens like mad. I'd never tried an Organics Studio ink before so thought I'd give it a go when I saw this one: Aldous Huxley Old World Blue. To me, it's more of a turquoise ink than a true blue but that may a result of extra fine nibs. I like how the box also has a brief biography for the person the ink is named after too. At £8.75 for a 55mL bottle, I do feel that this is a reasonable price for an ink with plenty of character.

12 Aug 2020

re-reading old journals and preparing for future thoughts

Disclosure: there are emotional parts to this blog post. I also toyed with the idea of posting this or not for a long time but in the end, decided to share it.

As a confessed nerd, I am a huge fan of journaling. Having kept one on and off during my teens, I started decompressing mentally much more in my early twenties. I now journal almost daily and it really is a great thing to do before bed. On the days that have been stressful and I don't write anything down, I do notice that my sleep is more disturbed and I wake up feeling less refreshed the next day.

Mental health has had a spotlight on it for a while now which I think is justified. Conditions that aren't 'visible' have had some unjustified stigma attached to them and I do believe that everyone will have gone through some mental health difficulties at some point in their lives. 

For me, writing is very therapeutic. After my father died (maybe one day, I'll write about the experience of this as a 'good death' is something I am passionate about), what I found most difficult was never being able to talk to him again. In Hong Kong culture, we believe that things you cremate with the body are taken with them to the 'afterworld'. So for his cremation, I wrote him a letter using the best paper I could buy, using my 'Flower of Scotland' ink (as our happiest days were my childhood in Scotland) and written in my best handwriting. This helped me a lot. 

Sometimes, I also like to read parts of old journals to see what I was up to at that particular moment in time. As cheesy as this sounds; by doing this, I could really see how much I'd grown as a person and how much mentally stronger I am too. That said, I still have a long way to go in this journey and the blank journals below are just waiting to be filled with future ramblings that will hopefully allow me to develop more as a person. 

Do you find writing things down helpful? Did journaling get you through any particularly difficult periods of your life?

22 Jul 2020

a trial by error: a bullet journal for 2020 using a papier notebook!

This post has two parts to it. First, an introduction to Papier notebooks (this is not a sponsored post -  I'm just a very happy customer) and then an introduction to my bullet journal for 2021... Yes, I've finally done it and bit the bullet (pun intended).

Papier offer personalised notebooks in three different layouts: dot grid, lined or plain. I bought three: one was a gift for my sister and the other two were (naturally) for myself. The floral one is lined and the Miffy one is a dot-grid layout. Both come with 90gsm paper, a hardback cover, one ribbon page marker and contain 192 pages. They don't have a pen loop or a back pocket.

I decided to use the Miffy one for my 2021 bullet journal and here comes the second part of this blog post. My bullet journal all set-up, ready to go! (Name not blurred out here as my Instagram and Twitter now have it freely on show.)

My first page was a difficult one to commit to paper. It's a common feeling so not wanting to ruin a new notebook and I decided to take the plunge and just go for it. It's not perfect but it'll do!

The all important index, all ready to be filled in as the journal itself gets filled. 

Next, a mood tracker based on how my day went. We'll see if I tend to be a pessimist or an optimist with this spread...

A future log for any events that are coming up but cannot yet my filled into the monthly or weekly spreads as they are so far in advance. I quite like this view as I can see the upcoming year at a glance.

This year is a big one for me. I have a few goals: one of which include moving into my own house. Having not been abroad since October 2019, I would also like to take a small holiday at some point in 2021 so saving for that is another priority. We'll see how this pans out!

A work checklist here. It is based on the most recent checklist I could find and it keeps me accountable and productive in work-related activities.

With my yearly goal of reading as many books as possible (I read about one book a week at the moment - much slower than when I was at medical school!), I like to keep track of books completed. Another thing I don't do often enough is watch films so that is something I want to do more of this year. This tracker will surely help.

I'm always on the quest to improve myself in all aspects of my life so my own 'personal development plan' (PDP) will hopefully help me with this. PDPs are common in my line of work but I try and make my own so much more, including my personal life and goals in there too. Obviously, the personal side of things don't get documented on my work portfolio.

And onto my first monthly spread! I am going to try a linear vertical monthly spread for January and see how it goes before potentially trying something different for February.

And onto my first weekly spread! I am doing a week to one page to start off with and as my week's start on a Monday, I've included the last week of 2019 in there. This also means I get to start this journal sooner so, win win?

This is all still very new to me but it'll be good to try something different and out of my comfort zone.  Once this journal is filled, I think my next one will have to be one of my Leuchtturms or an Archer and Olive journal. We'll see how this all goes!


In a plot twist, I decided to give bullet journaling a go earlier this month. I've posted a few snippets over on my Instagram already but a full blog post will follow at some point once things calm down in a few weeks' time!