Midori Traveler’s Notebook (Part 2)

So a while back I wrote about this planner/journal system and how my introduction to it was a cheap knock-off from Michael’s. Yeah, I went a little bonkers with that. A couple of weeks later I decided to upgrade a bit to a fabric cover that I bought on Etsy, then I discovered that a lot of people make covers in Fields Notes size (I am already a committed Field Notes junkie), then I started adding charms and folders and bookmarks and more inserts… long story short, I am now the owner of 5 TNs total: one standard size, one passport, and three FN-size. I use them all, although of course I don’t carry them all around with me. I’d have to be She-Hulk to manage that.

Last week I saw a post in a Facebook group for buying/selling TN gear where someone was selling a TN brand Airport Edition, the cover that is only sold at the Traveler’s Factory stores in Japanese airports (as far as I know, just Narita and Tokyo). Apparently I thought WELP I GUESS I HAVEN’T BLOWN ENOUGH MONEY ON THIS HOBBY YET, because I wound up buying it, although I did get her to knock $20 off her asking price and include the shipping. BEHOLD:


The charm is a hamsa, that I added myself.


It came with this insert. The other is my lightweight paper insert; I’ve taken to covering the boring covers with craft paper.


More covered inserts.


I found these vintage camera magnet bookmarks at Barnes and Noble and of course as soon as I did there was a 100% chance they were coming home with me.


I use the weekly planner to keep notes about photo shoots: what/where/when, weather/light conditions, films/cameras used, etc.


The kraft paper insert with some stuff from my recent Virginia trip.


The folder (from Analog Stationers) holds tourism brochures as well as loose items that haven’t made it into the kraft insert yet.


Midori Traveler’s Notebook

This is another journaling/planner system I’ve become interested in. It’s a popular option because of how customizable it is, but the standard Midori brand cover is leather and not cheap. A less expensive option is the “fauxdori”, which are popular for reasons involving money, veganism, and/or just wanting something different than a plain brown or black leather cover.

Fauxdori TN

I found this knock-off “boho string journal” being sold at Michael’s under their store brand Expressions for $15 last month, it came with a blank white paper insert and a brown kraft paper insert. But I figured it would go on sale and I’m in Michael’s at least twice a month. Sure enough, the next time it was in there it was 40% off, so I scooped it up. I ditched the white paper notebook, the pages of which felt overly thick and too pulpy to be fountain pen-friendly, but I kept the kraft paper. Kraft paper is more or less all the same. I also didn’t like the charms it came with–too “15-year-old girl’s diary”–so I swapped them for a St. Joan medal and a fleur-de-lis I had on hand, leftovers from chaplet-making.

Fauxdori TN

Here it is after I added a Field Notes graph notebook (the large “Arts & Sciences” edition) and weekly planner with memo and lightweight paper journal, both Midori TN brand. So I guess my “fauxdori” is at least semi-authentic. The pen is an eyedroppered Pilot Petit filled with Sailor Yama-dori.

Fauxdori TN

The kraft paper notebook will function as a kind of scrapbook. In a TN, the different notebooks are attached to each other with large rubber bands, and the middle is slipped through an elastic that runs down the inside spine of the cover. So you have different notebooks with different layouts, but they all function as one journal/planner.

Fauxdori TN

The Field Notes may just be for, well, notes; but I’m going to do some research on bullet journaling this weekend and that may be something I want to get into. I’ve stayed away from it before now because it seems like it involves a lot of color-coding and I don’t really want to haul around an entire craft store with me.

Fauxdori TN

The weekly planner (to which I added a lucky money envelope, a finishing touch on a lot of my journals/planners) and the journal will be used primarily for photography projects and road trips… things that involve actual travel, so to speak. My Hobonichi Techo functions more as a mini-journal and I don’t see there being a lot of overlap between the two. I like to think of the Hobo being a journal of internal life and the TN as one of external life.

Hobonichi Techo 2016

ht cover

So this is my first year with the coveted Hobonichi Techo planner, and I love it. Technically I was able to start using it halfway through December, but you only get half pages until New Year’s Day. On January 1st it goes to the full page-per-day format, one of the things users love so much about this particular planner. My only complaint is the quotes at the bottom of every page, I don’t have much use for them and I’d rather have the space to write in.

ht day

The pen I chose to go with it is my Sailor Lecoule, partly because of the color and partly because it’s one of my few F nibs, allowing me to write small and still have it be legible. It’s filled with Iroshizuku Ku-jaku (Peacock), and I’m planning on using the same pen/ink throughout the year. Some people use different pens to color-code their planners, but I like to write on the go, so I’ll probably just stick with one.

HT month
(not my photo)

One of the great things about the Techo (besides than the ultra-thin but fountain pen-friendly Tomoe River paper) is that it’s sort of two things in one. At the beginning of the planner you have the small box-per-day monthly layout, and the page-per-day format after that. (Also some blank dot-grid pages at the back.) I’m not a particularly busy person, so I like to use this section for more traditional planner-type writings. I use the big pages for short journal entries, lists, and photos. (In fact, just before Christmas I dusted off my Polaroid and bought 10 10-packs of the 2×3″ Zink paper that goes in it.)

Some people get really artistic with the large pages, sketching a visual diary, or making miniature scrapbook pages. Except for photographs, I’ve always been more of a words journaler. Howver, I did buy some stickers and small post-its, and last night I ordered these stamps from Amazon:


In the course of Googling around to see what other people do with their Techos, stamps seem to be a popular option. (Also with Filofaxes, which have apparently morphed from the yuppie must-have accessory I knew it as during my ’80s childhood into something more fun and youthful.) I looked at a lot of stamp sets and most of them just had too many stamps I would never use. These are Korean (a lot of the sets I saw were Korean or Japanese), but most of them have symbols that make their meaning obvious. I might never use a couple of these, but most of them I could see using a few times a year, and some of them a few times a month. I especially like the little + and – change purse ones; using those in the monthly pages could help give you a good idea of your finances for the week or month at a glance. The 40-stamp set was $8.85 (free shipping with Amazon Prime) and they come in a little wooden box.

(My first choice for stamps was Pilot Frixion, because they are both self-inking and erasable, and I did buy a couple of them from JetPens just before New Year’s. But no American retailer seems to carry more than a few of the designs, if I wanted all of them I’d have to buy them from Etsy or eBay and pay a huge mark-up.)

at this rate, I’ll be using a stone slab and a chisel by the time I’m 50

Not content with fountain pens and WWII-era typewriters, I’ve started using dip pens when I write letters. Actually, I am not new to them. When I was a teenager, my best friend gave me a glass dip pen for my birthday, and I used it for several years (mostly to write in my journal, as I wasn’t into the whole epistolary thing back then) until the tip broke off.

I bought a pewter dipping pen at Papier Plume shortly after I moved to Louisiana, mostly for aesthetic reasons. (Side rant: I’ve gotten pretty sick of the ubiquitous fleurs-de-lis since moving to Louisiana, but I liked it on the pen. Mine has an olive green feather.) I bought a couple bottles of calligraphy ink (walnut and moss green–earth tones seem to suit the medium better; PP makes and bottles their own) and did use it a couple of times. But the nib they stuck on it was super sharp and pointy–like, you could put someone’s eye out with that thing–and I had too many problems with it catching on the paper and spraying ink all over it (and my hands and the desk and whatever shirt I was wearing at the time).

I figured they could probably recommend a better nib for someone who a) prints, rather than writes and b) tends to hold a pen like they’re trying to strangle it. But I didn’t get back to the store until this past Labor Day weekend, although I’ve been buying sealing wax and fountain pen ink off their website. The woman who works there suggested 2 different nibs: one with a flat tip, like a calligraphy pen; and one with a ball-tip. They both worked out beautifully, and the flat nib can even be used on ordinary lined binder paper.

So when I went back last weekend, I bought another of each type, just so I have spares–dip nibs don’t last forever. I also bought a bottle of their peacock blue ink, which is hands down my favorite shade of blue–and since joining the Goulet Pens Ink Drop, believe me when I tell you that I have tried a LOT of different blues. I’ve been using the fountain pen ink and wanted it in calligraphy ink. And I bought a bottle of gold calligraphy ink, which is not as frivolous as it may sound, as I actually use metallic ink quite often, to address dark-colored envelopes. Also fine, maybe I have some half-assed idea of doing illuminated letters in my correspondence.

I also bought this dip pen (in bronzed pewter with a burgundy feather), which I am not even going to try to defend, I don’t in any way need a second pen. Design aside, it’s the exact same pen. I APOLOGIZE FOR NOTHING! In fact, I plan on buying this pen as well, just as soon as I can get it with a dark blue feather.

also, please note: it’s moleskine, not “moleskin”. it’s not made from the skin of moles.

It’s been a while since I bought a Moleskine. I admit, they are kind of overpriced, which is why I’ve been using cheaper alternatives. But I just love that paper, the way it feels and the way it takes the ink of my fountain pens. (The Notebooks, not the Cahier Journals. Those things have lousy thin paper that ink bleeds right through.) And I love the sewn spines that lay open without having to be held down that way.

I decided to try something a little different and get a Japanese Album this time. Remember my old scrapbook diary? I haven’t posted any photos of it in a while, because I’ve been integrating it with my regular text journals. I’ve also been taking a lot of instant photos with my Fuji Instax of things I want to write about, and including them with the text entry. The Japanese Album seems like a good medium for this, and it probably won’t bulge as much as regular journals do, once they have all that stuff inserted into them.

While I was on the Moleskine website, I saw they have something new called Passions Journals. I love their specialty notebooks, especially the City Notebooks. I’m so glad I kept one for San Francisco (it’s pretty full, too), because now that I’ve left the Bay Area it’s like a keepsake album. I wish they would make one for New Orleans, but a couple years ago I hacked my own out of a regular Moleskine Pocket Notebook, and I think I did a pretty good job.

So anyway, I decided to get the Passions Book Journal. It’s always helpful to keep info on books, especially now that I’m going to be making an effort to use the library and not spend so much $$$ on books. (Also, truthfully, they are a BITCH to move. I narrowed it down to 5 boxes, and I’d really like to keep it that way.) Since I can no longer just pull an old book off the shelf whenever I need to refresh my memory, this Notebook should come in handy!