Writing Wednesday: Thank you notes?

Posted November 26, 2014 by
in Pens, Paper & People | 4 comments »

ThankYouCards_Pile_of_Thanks_jmgrantsWith the gift-giving season coming up, I’ve been thinking about what I’m going to do about thank you notes this year.

When I was a kid my parents (rightfully) made me write thank you notes to my grandparents to thank them for gifts. It was a good skill to learn, both the card-writing and the etiquette practice.

These days, I couldn’t tell you the last time I wrote a proper thank you card. Most of the people I express thanks to are on a different continent from me, so I send thanks via email which is fast and convenient but just doesn’t have the same feel to it. A handwritten card is such a nice gesture. When I receive one, I always appreciate it.

Do you write thank you cards? Or do you send e-thanks?

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Time Management Monday: If not now, when?

Posted November 24, 2014 by
in Planning Tips | Add your comment »

Berkowitz neck

Do you have a stack of books you want to read, want to get fit, learn to cook, or learn a new skill? When are you going to make time for it? It’s all too easy to let day to day life go by. If there’s something you want to do, you’ll need to carve the time out of your schedule to make it happen. If you don’t make time for the things you want to do, “someday” eventually turns into “never.”

Example: A friend of mine wanted to learn how to play the guitar. But he was the manager of a large hotel and worked from early in the morning to late in the evening every day including most weekends. He felt like he had to or everything would fall down around him, and to his credit when he moved on to a new hotel in a different city the place did crumble without his management. But he had no work-life balance and was never going to learn to play the guitar in that lifestyle. Eventually his girlfriend bought him guitar lessons as a gift. When the lessons were scheduled and paid for he made them a priority.

Another example: I want to finish reading the Icelandic Sagas, which are not only huge but require concentration to follow all the characters, many of which have the same or similar names. It’s not something I can read 10 minutes at a time before bed. I have to read for long enough to follow all the plot twists, and often with my Iceland map beside me so I can see the places they are talking about. I need at least 30 minutes at a stretch. I decided I need to carve out time during my day to read the Sagas, because it’s not happening on its own. So I decided I’ll read them during my lunchtime instead of spending that time surfing the internet.

What have you been wanting to do “someday?” How can you work those actions into your day to day routine?

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Friday Roundup

Posted November 21, 2014 by
in Product Reviews | Add your comment »


Stormy Grey bottle front

J. Herbin Stormy Grey fountain pen ink

Happy Friday everyone!

There are so many great reviews of J. Herbin inks lately. Stormy Grey and Poussiere de Lune remain firm favorites, along with blues, greens and browns.

Gourmet Pens reviews Stormy Grey with drying times and used in several different pens.

Inkoholic on Fountain Pen Network reviews three brown Herbin inks with nice comparisons of the colors.

Inkdependence reviews Herbin Bleu Pervenche with color comparisons of other blue inks.

Well-Appointed Desk reviews Poussiere de Lune with comparisons with several other purple inks.

Life Imitates Doodles reviews Vert Olive showing the shading variation possibilities with this ink.

visvamitra on Fountain Pen Network reviews Bleu Nuit with great photos of the ink splashed on paper, absorbed in paper towel, and the color range digitally displayed.

And not to be missed:  Life Imitates Doodles “elephant in the attic” in a Clairefontaine Crok’Book



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Exatime 17 Filofax-compatible inserts

Posted November 20, 2014 by
in Pens, Paper & People, Product Reviews | 1 comment »

Exatime 17 inserts


I hear from a lot of Filofax users that they wish there were planner inserts with fountain-pen quality paper. Your wish is granted! The Quo Vadis Exatime 17 inserts have smooth 85 gsm paper that works well with fountain pens.

The inserts fit into personal or compact size Filofax, compact size Franklin Covey binders, Day Timer portable size binders, the Quo Vadis brand binders (scroll down in this link to see the selection) and other brands of 6-ring personal size binders.

The weekly planner pages are in English, French and German with the week’s schedule on the left page and the right page open for notes.

I reviewed these inserts on my blog, click here to see my review with more photos of the features.

The Exatime 17 weekly inserts are available at PaperBistro.com. There is also a selection of other inserts with the same gorgeous paper.

So now you can use your favorite fountain pen with your beautiful binder!

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Writing Wednesday: Breaking through writer’s block

Posted November 19, 2014 by
in Cabinet of Curiosities | 2 comments »

crushed paper - writer's block - crumpled paper with unfocused background

My kids and I were playing a game yesterday that later I thought could be a great way to break through writer’s block. We tell a story one line at a time, with each person coming up with the next line. The next person has to repeat what the previous person said and say, “…because…” and then add their own line. The result is a story told in reverse.

Our game started like this: The boy was crying. The boy was crying because…he dropped his peanut butter sandwich. He dropped his peanut butter sandwich because…he was startled. He was startled because…there was a fire behind him. There was a fire because…it was a forest fire. There was a forest fire because… etc. We quickly made the rule that aliens could at no point enter the story, because it was all too easy to attribute anything and everything to aliens. Otherwise, anything was fair game.

I thought this method could be a great way to work through writer’s block. The name “writer’s block” implies you’ve come up against a barrier and you can no longer move forward. By taking a step back and attempting to explain “…because,” you turn the story in a different direction, add reasons and meaning, perhaps some backstory, and hopefully move your way around the blockage.

What are your tricks for working around writer’s block?

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No Daily Pocket in 2015

Posted November 18, 2014 by
in Editorial | 2 comments »


Due to declining sales over several years, the Daily Pocket was cancelled for 2015.

We have received some calls and emails from Daily Pocket customers expressing their frustration and grief over the cancellation.  We are sorry, too; the Daily Pocket was our only pocket daily planner.  The Journal 21 and Notor continue to do well, but people who prefer pocket size are unconsoled.  The large hourly space for notes is not replicated in the Business, although the Sapa X is a compact pocket and has open space for notes.

I have asked if there are any alternatives in France to the Daily Pocket.  One possibility is a “Contractor’s” agenda, which shows the week on the left and a grid page for notes on the right. It’s about the same size as the Daily Pocket.  Any interest? Suggestions?

Laurie jumping in here to add: Quo Vadis UK has a 2015 Daily Pocket planner. It is multi-language (including English) with a Habana cover in a variety of color options. The product ordering page is here:  http://www.quovadis-diaries.co.uk/acatalog/Daily-Pocket-Habana-2015.html  Quo Vadis UK ships worldwide.




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Time Management Monday: Weekly reviews

Posted November 17, 2014 by
in Pens, Paper & People, Planning Tips | Add your comment »


I know weekly reviews (or evaluations) are one of the most-recommended practices by productivity advisors. It’s a process that time-management guru Benjamin Franklin did daily. I don’t like to do evaluations but I’m not sure why. I know that listing my accomplishments, my challenges, my setbacks and my triumphs will increase my effectiveness and productivity. But I just don’t like to evaluate my week.

That said, if I functioned in a different environment I can see how weekly evaluations would be very useful in learning lessons on what was effective and what wasn’t. Good business practices are built on this. Hm, maybe I should incorporate this into my weekly routine after all?

Something I do have to do each week is look through each day’s tasks from the previous week and move undone items forward so they don’t fall into the Abyss of Forgotten Tasks. I do this during my weekly planning session (which I’m doing very successfully on Friday afternoons now). In a way this is similar to a review: did I accomplish my goals/ finish my tasks? Which ones didn’t get done? But I don’t delve into the evaluation part.

Do you do weekly reviews and/ or evaluations? Why or why not?

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Poll: Do you prefer the old or new look of the Notor and Textagenda?

Posted November 14, 2014 by
in Announcements, Pens, Paper & People, Product Reviews | 10 comments »

The Quo Vadis Notor and Textagenda day per page planners have a new look this year on the daily pages. We’ve had some comments from users, both happy and unhappy with the new look . It seems people feel strongly either way about the new appearance of the daily pages. I want to see what you think about them.

Below is the new look of the Textagenda (academic-year day per page planner) and the Notor (January-December day per page planner). You can click on the images for a larger view.

Textagenda 2015 cropped

New look Textagenda and Notor, stock image


Below is the old look of the Textagenda and Notor:

Old Textagenda

Old look Textagenda and Notor, photo taken at home

A few years ago there were a lot of comments made when the print was changed from grey to the blue as seen above. So I can imagine this bolder look may be even more controversial.

For easier comparison, here is a scan with the two side by side. The old look is at the left, new look at the right.

Textagenda old vs new scan cropped (550x390)

What do you think? We are collecting votes in the poll located at the right of the page, and results will be discussed in the company-wide planning meeting in June.

Please vote, and comment here too if you like.

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Picking your perfect planner Part 3: Monthly planners

Posted November 13, 2014 by
in Pens, Paper & People, Planning Tips | 3 comments »

Welcome to Part 3 of my Picking Your Perfect Planner series. In Part 1 I discussed weekly planners and their use, and in Part 2 I focused on day per page planners. Today I’ll tell you about monthly planners.

Monthly planners are different from the monthly wall calendars you keep in your office and/ or kitchen. Monthly planners are in book format and are designed to carry with you.

Quo Vadis has three excellent monthly planners, all of which I have used at various times over the years. Each can be used by itself as your main planner, or in combination with your weekly or daily planner to give the overall big picture.

The largest is the Monthly 4 planner. It is a desk-size monthly planner with list boxes for reminders of tasks, bills, and notes each month. There are also several notes pages, and forward planning.

Monthly 4


The Exaplan monthly planner is sized 3 3/8 by 5 7/8 inches so it can slip into your pocket, or into the cover of your planner if you need month reference calendars. The Exaplan has 21 months of planning, from July through to the second March. This planner opens book style, with Saturday and Sunday sharing a space.



The Visoplan monthly planner is also pocket size, measuring 6 5/8 by 3 1/2 inches. It opens vertically (like a book turned on its side) and Saturday and Sunday each have their own column.


Each of these planners has spectacular 90g white, acid free paper and holidays printed on the day spaces.

In my Feature Focus post on monthly grid calendars I discussed ways to use this type of layout. Monthly calendars are great for an overview of upcoming events, deadlines and travel. They can also be used as a quick-reference of past events or to record things like exercise, health and symptoms, nature observations etc.

Now that you’ve seen all three parts of the Picking Your Perfect Planner series, which planner(s) do you think you’ll use in 2015?

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Writing Wednesday: Do you NaNoWriMo?

Posted November 12, 2014 by
in Writing as Meditation | 3 comments »

NaNoWriMo: the home front

National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo for short, happens every November. I’ve never done it, but I see it online a lot and it does look like fun. It seems like a great way to get the creative juices flowing, and to be a part of the larger writing community.

The goal is to complete a 50,000 word novel by the end of the month. Many writers work best to a deadline, so this is a great way to put the pressure on to finally write that novel you’ve been thinking about for ages.

There’s a whole online community, and ways to measure your progress every step of the way. Seems like the support would be great for first-time novelists. There’s also people who do it every year. I could see how it could get addictive, like an adrenaline rush for writers to work under pressure to reach your goal (but in a casual way when your salary doesn’t depend on it).

Do you NaNoWriMo? What has been your experience of it?

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