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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Renaissance Art leather and paper samples

Renaissance Art has a huge variety of types and colors of leathers to choose from for their Moleskine and Custom leather covers.

There is a thicker, more rustic leather that is available in black or brown, and a thinner sleeker leather that comes in loads of colors. All of these are shown below:

Here are The Browns. The colors are, starting top left, Distressed Rustic Brown, Rustic Brown, British Tan. Bottom row at left is Flight Jacket, and bottom right is Molasses (which I reviewed a cover made from, click here to see).
Below are the back sides of these same samples, with the name labels showing.

Here are what I call The Deeps. Top left is Black and top right is Rustic Black, which is thicker.
Bottom row from the left are Twilight Blue, Merlot (which I reviewed in a custom cover here) and Wintergreen.

Below are the backs of these samples with the name labels visible.

Here are what I call The Brights. At the top are Cranberry and Ocean Blue.
Bottom row starting at the left are Rust, Sunflower and Avocado.

Below are the backs:

I didn't know this before, but Ren Art also has a variety of papers used in their leather journals, sketchbooks and photo albums. Below are photos of the paper selection to choose from. At the top left is Frankfurt White, which is 120 gsm. Top right is Zerkall Book white/ smooth which is 145 gsm.

Bottom left is Frankfurt Creme which is 120 gsm, and at the right is Arches Text Wove creme 120 gsm.

All of these papers are designed to take inks well.  I don't use fountain pens, but you can click here to see O-kami's review of these papers with ink tests.

You can buy these samples on the Renaissance Art website to help you decide how to customize your book. The cost of the samples is credited to your account for a future purchase so in the end they don't cost you anything.

Many thanks to Ren Art for sending me these samples to review!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Paper poll result: white vs. cream

I'm very surprised by the result of this poll!!

Back when I introduced this poll, I stated my preference for white paper (which still stands).  I've heard of marketing research that indicates, in general, US customers prefer white paper and European customers prefer cream/ ivory paper. Since the majority of my readers are in the US, I expected a majority of voters preferring white paper.

But boy was I wrong!!

Out of 94 votes, only 31 (33%) were for white paper, and 63 (67%) were for cream/ ivory.

No wonder there are so many notebooks available with cream or ivory paper, and good white-paper notebooks are becoming scarce!

What I didn't include in the poll is whether people prefer, for example, ivory paper in their notebooks but white paper in your planner. Do you prefer ivory paper for everything, or only for notebooks? Please pose a comment!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Letts Bicentenary Diary

I am so excited about this diary!! It is a peek at the very beginning of diary creation. It's like holding the diary version of the Big Bang in your hands!! This is how it all started!!

This is the Letts Bicentenary Diary, produced to celebrate 200 years of diaries printed by Letts. Inside this diary are pages detailing the beginning of Letts by founder John Letts, and his creation of the very first commercial diary in 1812, which revolutionized the shipping industry and business worlds at that time. The history of the company and of diary use itself is described, and famous diary users (including some royals!) are named.

You have no idea how exciting I found this. (Or, if you've been reading this blog awhile, maybe you do). What you might not know is that I love old things, and especially learning about the beginnings of things. I did my Master's degree on the origin of birds. I have antique furniture. I write in notebooks and planners.

So to read about how diaries/ planners got started from the very beginning was very exciting! I have to admit I had goosebumps while I was reading it!!  (Yes I freely admit I'm a geek!)

There is a timeline over several pages tracking significant events over the past 200 years, from the production of the first diaries to 2012. Fascinating to see how our world has changed in that time, yet people are still faithfully recording our lives on paper in books! I love it!

Another thing I found fascinating: next to the page of current measurements and conversions there is a page of measurements and conversions in the 1800's!  It tells you why tyres/ tires are called that, what's a carucate, and how many mouthfuls are in a pint. I love learning about stuff like this!

The look of the diary is meant to replicate the appearance of the original diary in 1812, and the book is made using the same techniques used then.  The diary comes in a beautiful box ready to give as a gift, or to house your collector's edition diary. It also includes a card that states which number your diary is out of only 2000 printed!

The end pages have a beautiful pattern inside, this photo doesn't nearly do it justice.
The diary has an open weekly format with a space for notes, and holidays are printed in the day spaces. The print and style look like they could be straight out of the 1812 original.
Yet for the antique appearance of the book, the features are entirely modern. There are loads of useful pages including reference calendars:
Modern-day country information:
A planner for 2012:

And for all of 2013:
There are several pages in the back for Contacts and Notes. A red ribbon placemarker and gilt page edges add to the luxurious look of this book.
The back cover retains that old-world look too:

Now, let me tell you about the paper. It is so spectacular I tweeted @LettsDiaries to ask what it is. It is Cotton Cream 90 gsm, and it is divine. Thick, smooth, and just cream-colored enough to add to the antique look of the book. It's gorgeous. Letts said this same paper is also used in the Duchess and Westminster diaries in their Limited Edition collections (http://www.lettsoflondon.co.uk)

The diary is approximately A6 size, a little taller. I measure it at about 4 1/2 by 7 inches (nearly 12 cm by nearly 18 cm).  It's a very portable size, slim and light so you could carry it around everywhere with you.

What could possibly make this diary any cooler??  I'll tell you what: it's made in Scotland. I think I may swoon.

I pre-ordered this diary back in July because I absolutely did not want to miss out on this collector's edition, and I'm so happy to have it! If you are interested in this one, don't wait a single second. With only 2000 in print, they'll go fast!  Here's the product link:


Monday, November 21, 2011

My day per page planner collection

I love day per page planners. Even though I've tried and failed several times over the past couple of years to use one as my main planner, I still love them for recording daily details that otherwise wouldn't get captured.

Here is my collection of day per page planners that I have used in some way or another over the years.

Below are close-ups of these planners. Click on the links for the backstories!

Here are my Exacompta Daily Pocket planners. I used the green one for awhile in 2001 while I was traveling from Nepal to Paris and then around Scotland (my first trip there).  It was great to travel with because it took up practically no space in my bag and weighs next to nothing. 
The blue one on the right is the one I used in 2009. It's great because it really is small enough to keep in my pocket so I was able to jot down things before I forgot when I was out on the playground, chasing my toddlers around the house, or anywhere.

Below are my pocket size daily Moleskine planners. I let my kids decorate them for me.  The one on the left is from 2006 but I didn't use it much because I didn't like it nearly as much as the one I used in 2005, but couldn't get another of the same kind for that year.
In 2010 I switched from the Exacompta Daily Pocket to the Moleskine daily pocket for the hard cover and elastic strap.  I've been using this year's pretty consistently, and already have next year's version ready to go (far right).

My A6 day per page planners. I love this size. The brown faux suede one on the left is the planner I used the year my daughter was born. It's one of the only planners I've ever used every day for the entire year. In it I recorded all the events of my daughter's first year, and our move to Moscow. It lives in a fireproof box.
The black one next to it is the exact same type and brand of planner that I used for awhile in 2009. The lilac one is my Letts Principal diary, and the red one is from Russia.

My Textagendas. I have a special place in my heart for Textagenda planners!  The one on the left is the one I used in Nepal, the purple one is from France, and the pink one is from the UK.
Below are my Cavallini leather day per page planner and my DIARYYYYYY TWOOOOO THOOOOUUUSAAAAAAND:
My A5 day per page planners. On the left is the Exacompta Journal 21. The other two are from Albania, and I used them while I was living there.
 My large daily Moleskine planners that I use as journals:

I like using different sizes of day per page planners for different purposes. A5's are my favorite for using as journals but I find them too big/ heavy to carry everywhere with me as planners. I love the size of the Textagenda for lots of writing space in a portable book. A6 is probably my favorite size for a daily book because of the shape and size. It's big enough to capture details but small enough to go everywhere, even in my hand around the house. Pocket size planners are great for keeping in my pocket on those really scattered days when I need to write things down before I forget.

Do you use a day per page planner? What size do you prefer?

New poll: which color paper do you prefer?

You'll see my new poll over there in the sidebar. I'm really curious to see which color paper people prefer.

There seem to be more and more ivory or cream colored paper products out there. I don't know if it's because Moleskine products have cream paper and have become so widespread that other brands feel they need to have cream paper to compete.  I think making the paper cream or ivory is an easy way for brands to make the product seem more "special" or "upscale" without actually providing better quality.

Personally, I prefer white paper. Thick, smooth and the whiter the better. White paper is nicer to look at, in my option, and shows ink colors better.

I'd love to know what you think. Please vote in the poll at the right!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Poll results: what type of planner do you use?

Here are the poll results for what types of planners readers use:

Do you use a day per page planner or a week to view?

55 votes
Day Per Page: 21 (39%)
Weekly 34 (69%)

Do you use a bound book planner or a ring binder organizer?

50 votes
Bound book: 26 (52%)
Ring binder: 24 (48%)

Do you use an Academic-year planner or a Calendar-year planner?

46 votes
Academic Year 2 (4%)
Calendar Year 38 (82%)
Planner that starts in July or August and goes all the way through the end of the following December 6 (13%)

Do you plan to use the same planner/ diary in 2012 as you did in 2011, or move on to something different?

52 votes
Same Planner 19 (36%)
Something Different 33 (63%)

Many thanks to everyone who took the time to vote in these polls!  I'm always fascinated by what planners people use.

I was surprised that so many people use day-per-page planners! And bound books juuuuuust edged out binder-organizers by a slim margin.  I was also surprised that more people don't use academic-year planners.

And, best of luck to all of you who are trying out a new planner system in 2012!  I'll want to hear from you after you start your planner to know how it's going!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Update: Avrum's Action Journal

You may remember Avrum's guest post awhile back about his cool, comprehensive self-made system.  (If you don't, don't worry: Click here to see it! )

Avrum sent me an email yesterday showing me his new system and it blew my socks off!! I love how it captures work, personal life, tasks, ideas and art all on a new two-page spread every day. And all in an uber-cool book!!

Here's Avrum:

It's been a while, and thought I'd update you on my efforts to combine various planning modalities and mediums (see attached photo). For the past few weeks I've been using an Action Journal (Behance) and borrowing elements from:

* Danny Gregory's "The Creative License" (Combine to-do's, plans, and sketches on same page)
* Bill Westerman's Getting S**t Done
* Misc focusing advice/MIT (most important tasks)

If I wake up before my kid (16 months), I follow Step 2 of Getting S**t Done:

"Sit down with my notebook (laptop asleep, phone off, newspaper closed) and open it to the next blank page. I write the day and date at the top. I dump a list of the things that are top of mind, in no particular order. That’s important, because it lets me get everything out without worrying about structure. I combine work and personal items. Then, I go back to previous days and look for unfinished items. For each one I find, I draw a slash through its box (indicating it’s been moved forward), and rewrite it on today’s page."

Then I do my best to identify 2 - 4 tasks related to high value projects, and place those in the orange boxes. The left side of the page is used for sketches, mostly about how my day is going.

At night, I use the the small grey box (bottom right) to jot down a quick thought about something I learned today, or would like to do differently tomorrow.

Initial observations/feelings lead me to believe I've created a system that captures almost everything I've been seeking in a system:

* Nostalgia/journal
* very portable
* Attractive tool (Action Journal)
* Creativity/art
* Focus
* Starting each day afresh
* Consequence(s) for outstanding items (rewriting them daily) 
I made the photo extra-large even though it runs into the sidebar because a smaller view just doesn't do it justice!  Click on the photo to get a better look at it.

Many, many thanks to Avrum for sharing this amazing system!!  I know I'm extremely inspired by these ideas and I will be incorporating some of these methods in my system!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ghost of Planners Past #6: My favorite

There are several reasons why this planner is my favorite. One is because it's a day per page planner, and I always like those. Another reason is because I used it all year long, which is so rare for me. And, its faux-suede cover is fuzzy to touch, and I'm a sucker for anything fuzzy.

But the real reason this planner is my favorite is because it's from the year my daughter was born. She was born early in the year, and this planner holds the record of memorable moments from her first year. That was also the year we moved to Moscow so there are lots of major life changes recorded in this book.

When I was pregnant with my daughter I was using my personal Buckingham Filofax. As much as I loved it, it had gotten totally out of control with how many pages I had in it. It was a fat, heavy brick and I was ready to streamline.

I went to my local Borders bookstore (I miss you Borders! :*(  ) and looked at the huge array of planners available.  I looked at rows and rows of weekly planners. One caught my eye: the Go Mom planner (which was a large ring binder with loads of inserts).  I thought, "I'm about to be a mom, maybe this will work for me!"  I opened it and was quickly overwhelmed by the weekly and monthly views alongside to-do and shopping lists. It was too much for me at the time. I wanted something simpler.

I found some day per page planners. I've been in love with day per page planners ever since my sister's Textagenda.  One planner in particular caught my eye. It was A6 sized, very portable. The brown faux suede cover was fuzzy and soft in my hands. It was a Time Traveler planner, in a size they unfortunately don't make anymore.

I opened it up and found loads of international information including dialing codes and conversion charts.

It had white, smooth paper and a full page for each day, even Saturdays and Sundays.

Then I turned to the back of the book and found loads of full-color maps of every continent!
To top it off, there were tons of full-color maps of cities around the world including Washington DC (where I was moving from) and Moscow (where I was moving to).

Sold. I remember thinking, "Well that was an easy decision!"

My new planner was indeed much lighter in my bag than my Filofax. In it I recorded the details of my final days at work, paperwork I needed to fill out and people I needed to contact.

Then soon after that the pages recorded the details of my daughter's birth and early days. Parents out there know it's very important to record the details of a newborn's eating, sleeping and elimination so the daily pages of this time are filled with all of those details. My planner hardly left my side. Everything was recorded in careful detail. In photos of my daughter's earliest days you can almost always see my small brown planner somewhere in the photo.

Just two months later we moved to Moscow, and my life was suddenly completely different. It's bittersweet to look back through my planner now and remember those days when everything my daughter did was new; I was keenly homesick and missing friends and family; and I was adjusting to life in a foreign country.

This planner is very rare in that I used it every day from the first of the year to the end. For some reason I've never been able to replicate that level of planner loyalty and satisfaction ever since.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Renaissance Art custom leather cover

Here is my custom-made leather cover from Renaissance Art!  This is the Merlot color, which is a deep purply wine color. It is super-smooth and soft, and I love the character-creases in the leather!
Here is the cover open and empty:

The Renaissance Art logo is embossed on the back:

I had this cover customized to fit my Quo Vadis Trinote planner, and it fits perfectly!

With the ability to customize a cover to fit nearly any size book (up to 9 x 12 inches!), you can get a leather cover for any planner, notebook or book. So if you're not satisfied with the cover on your planner or notebook, click here to check out Renaissance Art's selection of custom leather cover colors and styles, hand made to fit your book!

Just measure your book and enter the dimensions on the ordering page, and Ren Art will hand-make your leather cover to fit your book. Choose from thick or thin leather in a variety of colors and styles.

You can also choose to personalize your leather cover by having your name, initials, website, motivational phrase etc. embossed on the cover. And if you want them to tweak your cover in any way just let them know, they're good at that too.

Many thanks to Renaissance Art for sending me this cover as a sample to review!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Winners of the personalized Moleskine giveaway!

Many thanks to everyone who participated in the Personalized Moleskine Planner giveaway!

Here are the randomly-generated winners:




Congratulations!!!!  Winners, please email me at Plannerisms at gmail dot com, and I'll pass your email address on to Moleskine And More so they can contact you about personalizing and delivering your prize Moleskine!

And to those of you who didn't win, take heart!  You can still get a personalized Moleskine, at a special discount of 15% off! Enter code PLANNERISMS15 at checkout to get 15% off your order on www. JenniBick.com AND at www.MoleskineAndMore.com!  This offer is good through December 31, 2011.

Many thanks again to Moleskine And More for sponsoring this giveaway!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Last day to enter to win a personalized 2012 Moleskine daily planner!

If you haven't already entered the giveaway for your chance to win one of three PERSONALIZED Moleskine day per page planners, don't miss out! Click here to enter for your chance to win!

Winners will be announced here tomorrow!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Erin Condren Life Planner

There's been lots of buzz around the blogosphere lately about the Erin Condren planner, so I was really excited to review one! Many thanks to the EC team for their very generous discount code, and thanks for supporting your blogging community!

Erin Condren products are colorful, and PERSONALIZED!  There are loads of personalization options. When you click on your cover choice, take a minute to examine your color options. For some cover choices you can specify what colors you want. For some covers you can even upload photos!

I chose the motivational quote cover, personalized with my name and blog, which looks awesome:

I ordered my planner in late September, so my planner begins October 2011 and goes all the way through December 2012. There is a monthly calendar at the beginning of each month, and tabs so you can access each month easily:
Now the thing is, the weeks at the beginning and end of each month are broken up, because the monthly calendar is EXACTLY at the beginning of the month. I've used planners before that have months embedded in the weeks, but those had the monthly calendar before the week when the month starts so that every week remained intact. The EC planners have the month spliced into the middle of the week. Let me show you what I mean.

Below is the end of January and beginning of February. You can see the last couple of days of January (Monday and Tuesday) on the left page. (Click on photos for larger views.) Then on the right page is the February calendar.

Then there is a two-page spread for notes:
Then turn the page again and there is the rest of the week:
Bottom line is, this will either bother you or it won't. I know a lot of people who use this planner who aren't bothered about the week being broken up.

Here's what a normal week looks like. It's an excellent layout with Goals and Tasks in the left column, and the daily columns divided into Morning, Day and Night. 
Every month has a new color scheme, which is very pretty and adds variety:
There is a page to write in your important numbers, and several pages of colorful stickers, some of which are pre-printed and some are blank to write whatever you like.
There is a double-sided pocket in the back to hold bits of paper, tickets etc.:

There's also a plastic zip pouch for smaller items. This comes loaded with goodies! :)
Something that surprised me about this planner was the size. Including the plastic rings and tabs I measure it at more than 8 inches (22 cm) wide and 9 1/4 inches (23.5 cm) tall, and more than 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick.  As a size comparison, it's slightly larger than my A5 Domino Filofax:

But, with a large book comes a large page size so there's plenty of room to write.  The paper is very thick with no show-through. I don't use fountain pens, but my friend @RoriRants who does says the paper performs nicely with fountain pens, no feathering or bleed-through.

To summarize, the Erin Condren planner is a large, colorful planner with loads of personalization options, an excellent weekly format, monthly calendars, tabs, notes pages, pockets, and great paper.

If you look around online you can sometimes find a discount code for this planner, so do a search before you order!

You can find Erin Condren products on their website, and also check them out on Facebook and on Twitter:


Moleskine products have California Proposition 65 warning on Amazon.com

Many thanks to reader Erin for bringing this to my attention! On Amazon.com, many Moleskine notebooks and planners are now are listed with the California Proposition 65 warning. (Click here to see.)  When looking at the Moleskine products info page on Amazon, scroll down to Product Details to see if the California residents warning is listed.

Erin said in the same email that Ecosystem planners are not being made for 2012, which is even more disappointing now to not have them as an alternative to Moleskines.

I don't know much about California's Proposition 65, can anyone educate me?

**Edited: Many thanks to New Kid for posting Moleskine's link to this issue. According to Moleskine, all of their products made since August 2010 are Proposition 65 compliant:


Thursday, November 10, 2011

How have your planning needs changed over the years?

I'd love to hear about your personal Planner Evolution!

My planner needs have changed drastically over the years. I first started using a planner in high school to record assignments. Very basic. In fact I just drew up my own in an extra notebook I had. Even in undergrad I just used my planner to keep track of assignments and work hours in my part-time jobs.  Back then I used whatever planner had the best scenery or wildlife photos.

While working in Alaska I first got turned on to a Filofax-style binder, which changed my entire life. You can read all about that revelation here.

In grad school I bought my first real Filofax, and it held my life together. I wrote assignments, reminders, course requirements, grade records, travel plans and everything else into my Filofax. It hardly left my side.

When I worked in a corporate office I continued to use my Filofax for personal things and Outlook at work, which everyone had to use to schedule meetings. I didn't have a problem keeping my Filofax synched with Outlook.

Then when I had kids things suddenly got much more complicated. We moved to Moscow when my daughter was a newborn, and had my son just a year and a half later. While the kids were babies we made multiple international trips per year which required tons of coordination and loads of gear! Packing lists, dosage lists for over the counter infant medication, vaccine records, calendars and more were stuffed into my Filofax.

Since then life continues to get more and more complicated, and I'm always searching for a planner that can handle it all. Both kids are in school now with after school activities, projects and events. I schedule parent volunteers in both kids' classes, which is fun but does require some mad planning skills. I have my own things going on too, with multiple blogs to write and/ or contribute to, household chores etc. And most likely we'll be doing another international move next year, which I am already starting to gear up for!

I'd love to hear how your planner needs have changed and evolved over the years! Have they gotten more complicated? Have you streamlined or simplified your planning needs? Please post a comment!

And if you haven't yet entered to win a personalized Moleskine planner from Jenni Bick, click here to enter!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Giveaway! Win a PERSONALIZED Moleskine planner from MoleskineAndMore.com!

***This competition is now closed. Many thanks to everyone who participated! See the winners on the Monday November 14 post!

Jenni Bick Bookbinding (www.jennibick.com) has a new website called Moleskine and More (www.MoleskineAndMore.com) that does custom personalization of Moleskine planners and notebooks!

If you've ever ordered from Jenni Bick before (which I have, and they are excellent) you'll know they are famous for beautiful embossed personalization on diaries, notebooks and photo albums.

Now Jenni Bick has created Moleskine and More to specialize in personalized Moleskine notebooks and planners. I am very excited that now we can easily add that personal touch to our Moleskines!

Moleskine And More has generously offered to give away THREE personalized Moleskine planners to Plannerisms readers!  The planner is the Large Hardcover Day Per Page Moleskine, which is a fantastic planner.

I've been using this planner for several years as my journal (which you can read about here), Dora uses the softcover large daily Moleskine as her work diary, and if you want more ideas on how to use a day per page planner/ diary click here to see my post with loads of suggestions.  The large daily planner is very versatile, and is sleek and sophisticated so you can use it at home, at work, at school and everywhere!

Here are the rules of the contest:

1) This giveaway is open world wide!

2) Post a comment on this post. Only one comment per person please. Your comment will be your entry.  In your comment, if you want, you can write what you'll have personalized on your Moleskine. You don't even have to be specific, just say your name or initials, a motivational quote, your company or website's name, etc. Or if you don't feel like sharing, that's okay too!

3) Comments/ entries will close Sunday November 13 at midnight in New York City, USA. That's the time zone.

4) Winners will be determined by random number generation on Random.org.

5) The three winners will be announced on this blog Monday November 14!

That's it! Pretty easy. Good luck everybody!

You can also check out the Jenni Bick blog, find them on Facebook, and see their gallery of custom embossed journals

Many thanks to Moleskine And More for sponsoring this giveaway!