On March 28, 2018, I wrote my first blog post! I’ve been on and off writing my blog since then, taking breaks to focus on schoolwork. I’m so fortunate to have bloggers like Pen Addict and Well-Appointed Desk feature me in their links! I also tried to increase my presence on Instagram with my account @notebook_joy.
My most popular post was my Hippo Noto review I wrote back in 2018 with almost 2,500 views. I’m glad that I helped so many people learn more about these notebooks! Some of the initial concerns I had about the notebook weren’t such a big deal in the end. However, the binding is still a little flimsy. I actually backed the A5/B6 Hippo Noto Kickstarter but I still haven’t received a notebook yet. This time I’m prepared for the long wait!
I also received a lot of views on my Stationery Shopping in Japan series when I visited in 2018. It was such a great time and those posts still get consistent views. Now it will be easier for people visiting after me to find these stores.
My favorite part of blogging is that I can help people to make informed decisions when purchasing stationery. I also love to post about my favorite notebooks and inks. In the future, I hope to post more, improve my photography skills, use my Instagram consistently, and hold giveaways! I should have more time to work on my blog now that I’m home for at least several months.
For whoever is still reading this, thank you for looking at my blog! I hope that I’ve spread some joy through my posts.
On Saturday, I’m going to the Baltimore Pen Show. This definitely isn’t my first show, but I thought I’d offer some tips for first-time visitors or anyone thinking of going in the future. First, what to bring:
Dip pen and notebook for ink testing
There’s usually an ink testing table with dozens of bottles and nibs, but I prefer to bring my own accoutrements. My glass dip pen is really light and easy to clean. The notebook is essential, I use it to compile all the inks I test and what inks are currently in my pens. Both make ink testing a lot easier.
Some of your favorite pens in a pen roll
You never know when you might want to show pens to other people! I still remember when a guy showed me his flex nib pen and let me write with it when I was talking to a vendor about wanting one. It was so nice of him! You could be that person for someone else. Also, pen shows are a chance to see unusual or expensive pens in person, instead of online. As long as you’re careful, bring that Pelikan with you!
I like bringing a small tote bag to carry all of my purchases. If you end up buying a lot of heavy inks, as I do, then you’ll be grateful for a sturdy bag. However, they are usually offered for free as you enter the convention.
It gets hot walking around a giant room. Remember to stay hydrated!
People often gather at the hotel bar after the pen show is over. You can meet some nice people that way!
Making plans in advance is also fun! For the DC Pen Show last summer, I went to dinner with the local DC Metro Pen Crew. It was a blast and I enjoyed seeing friends from previous meetups.
Go to the panels! They are usually free or have a minimal cost.
Don’t be afraid to talk to vendors! Everyone is really nice. Some of them remember me from previous years (Hi Lisa Vanness and Frank from Federalist Pens!). Also Brad from the Pen Addict is awesome and I love visiting him at Nock Co. 🙂
Those are my tips! I hope you enjoyed reading and you’ll have the chance to go to a pen show one day if you haven’t already. I’ve been to anime and comic conventions before but the fountain pen community is truly the kindest group I’ve been part of. I love that I share this niche hobby with so many other passionate people. I’ll write a follow up about how my day at the show went soon!
I’m finally back from the dead! I apologize for the long absence. This semester was really difficult for me. Between dealing with my student job, annoying roommate, and dreaded homework, it was hard to keep up with my blog. I focused mostly on new extracurriculars and keeping my grades up. Unfortunately, all my creative outlets fell by the wayside, including writing this blog. 😦 However, I did find a fun new hobby: art!!!!
I always liked drawing characters from the stories I wrote. But when I got older, I was intimidated by my amazing artist friends and stopped drawing. I never really improved past stick figures. But this year, I took an intro art class and drew five pages in a sketchbook every week! I was drawing much more than ever before. One of my aforementioned artist friends also encouraged my art. This time, I didn’t let insecurity stop me but kept on trying. In six months, I definitely improved! But I still have a long way to go. Maybe later I’ll show an album of my progress. Here’s one drawing I made recently:
With the paycheck from my job, I also bought Copic markers!!! For those who don’t know, they are alcohol markers that can be blended together to make watercolor-like drawings. They are amazing but so expensive. I wish I got a whole set in Japan, but unfortunately I didn’t have enough room in my suitcase. 😦 So in December I picked out 45 individual markers for around $260. Yes expensive I know. But I already had other markers I collected over the years. My collection is now around 75 markers. I’ve wanted them for years now so I think that was a paycheck well spent.
In other news, here are some of my currently inked pens:
My current favorite ink is the Kingdom Note Thysanostoma thysanuran ink, aka the scientific name for jellyfish!!!! It’s a vibrant purple that leans more pink than blue. In my broad Sailor Nib, it shows lots of shading. It even has a hint of black sheen on Tomoe River paper! I’m going to treasure this ink because I don’t know if I’ll ever get it again.
I wrote some stories, but mostly for my creative writing classes. However, I hit the 250 page midpoint of my Hippo Noto! Despite my initial concerns, the spine did hold up. Some of the sections felt loose but didn’t fall out. As time went on, it became harder to keep the pages flat. I’m ready to move on to the next notebook but I still have 250 more pages to go. My other journals were 200-215 pages so this sure is a change. Besides the Hippo Noto are my two Field Notes I use to jot down lists and ideas.
Here are the notebooks I filled with school notes! For the first half of the semester, I wrote with fine tip gel pens, then switched to fountain pens. On the left are two 80 page Kokuyo Soft Ring notebooks and on the right are two Kokuyo Campus notebooks. I still need to write a review on the former. I obtained mine on my Japan trip but I didn’t get enough. Turns out the ones I have aren’t available online to ship to the US at all. 😦
I have tons of new blog ideas that I hope to bring to you soon. Look out for a review of a local stationery store and my thoughts on the Stalogy365, Taroko Enigma, Story Supply Co Morning, Studio C and other notebooks!
I’m sorry, but it isn’t happening this year. For some reason, my last two Novembers weren’t busy at all. In 2016 it was the senioritis and existential dread of the presidental election that gave me the motivation to win. And in 2017, my unusually easy classes and lack of a social life allowed me to write a sequel. This year… I’m swamped with school, work, friends, and trying to carve out time for myself. My outline for Nano fell by the wayside. I think that’s a good thing. So here are my reasons to justify quitting Nano three days in:
Instead of focusing on a single, all-consuming task, I’ve diversified. What I’ve improved at this semester:
drawing, thanks to my art class I realized I actually have some skill!
writing short stories, not novels
keeping a daily diary
making friends, going out with them, being a normal human being?
holding a steady job and learning to save my money, banishing micro transactions to the abyss
procrastinating on writing stationery reviews, I’M SORRY OK
Yes, I wish I had time to write a full novel. But that means I would have to put aside my other commitments.
2. I don’t know if writing so rapidly actually produces quality work. It’s been two years since I wrote my first novel and it’s still a giant mess. The prose is choppy, there are gaping plotholes everywhere, and I made the big mistake of starting in the middle of the plot, getting to the end, then writing the beginning. DON’T DO THAT YOU WILL REGRET IT. I think my novel would have turned out better if I slowed down and concentrated on quality not quantity. Right now, the story is horrible and I’m not quite sure how to fix it. As a result, I might scrap or rewrite all 120,000 WORDS I wrote. That’s not going to be fun. O_O
3. I learned how to finish a novel. I proved myself, twice, that I can commit to writing at least 50,000 words. Before 2016, I never wrote more than 10,000 words. My stories fizzled out after a few pages. So I should be proud of how far I’ve come. I don’t need Nanowrimo anymore to inspire me to finish. And that’s the beauty of this hellish month-long torture exercise.
Goodbye, Nanowrimo. I’ve learned so much from you but now it’s time to put you aside. But I’ll always remember that sweet satisfaction of hitting my daily word count.
Note: This is part of a series. Read my other posts here, here, and here. 🙂
I’m sad to say that I’m back home now. Japan was a wonderful experience and two weeks didn’t feel like enough time. Unfortunately, we didn’t go to Osaka so I didn’t see Nagasawa. 😦 I did check out the Traveler’s Factory and Muji in Narita airport though.
I was excited to see this Muji-to-go after seeing all the great stationery stocked in convinence stores. But the selection was small and not very exciting.
However, The Traveler’s Factory sold Traveler’s Notebooks and its accessories. For those who don’t know, TN’s are leather covers that can hold small notebooks, or “inserts”. This allows you to carry around several notebooks in a portable package. I bought inserts with special covers exclusive to this store. I also bought vintage-style Pan Am stickers. My dad bought a brass bullet pencil and ballpoint. He was actually interested by the shop! My plan to convert my family is working. 😉
I also bought some stationery from convenience stores. The most common ones were Family Mart and 7/11. Yes, the latter is apparently very popular in Japan. These small stores actually have good selections of name-brand stationery like Kokuyo and Muji. Some 7/11’s had their own branded notebooks too! The items here were cheap yet high-quality.
I’m still surprised that such nice stationery is widely available and cheap. I’m used to the terrible paper sold in U.S. stores. I spotted nice pens used for signing stuff a few times. I guess Tombow pencils and Uni Sign pens are the equivalents of Ticonderoga’s and Sharpies in Japan!
Found at the Edo-Tokyo Museum
Found at the Meiji Shrine
I hope you enjoyed my blog series! I’ll try to post more reviews but college is starting up for me and I need time to settle in. For those who are interested, here are some non-stationery related pictures of my vacation:
Taroko Enigma (not currently available, new edition should arrive by end of July)
Trip to Japan (!!!)
D.C. Pen Show
Currently, I’m using a Hippo Noto, a Rhodia Webbie and a Write Notepads Lawn pocket notebook, as my daily carries.
Onto the topic of meet ups. I first heard of a pen meet up in the D.C. area when I was browsing Facebook. At first, I was nervous to go. Pen shows had been my only outlet for my hobby but I was more interested in purchasing than talking to others. But when I went to the May meeting, everyone was so welcoming!
It’s so strange talking to people that understand your obsession of pens and paper! They know all about the latest inks and trends. I don’t have many people to talk to about my hobby, though I found one fellow fountain pen addict at my college.
Everyone brought inks to sample and let me handle their expensive pens. It was a great way to try out pens in person and see if I liked them. I dodged a bullet with some, now I know the Pilot Vanishing Point and Pelikan M805 Ocean Swirl isn’t for me! Ages ranged from mid 20’s onwards. I was the only college-aged student so I felt awkward at first, but it quickly faded away.
I finally was able to go to a second meeting, this time at Fahrney’s Pens in D.C. This is a great store for buying high-end pens and some stationery. They were kind enough to host our group and even offered Montblanc and Sailor nibs to test. We got little gift bags too! I definitely will visit Fahrney’s more often. There was a table for ink testing and I tried some fun new colors.
Everyone should go to a pen meet up if they can! I had so much fun talking to fellow fans. The fountain pen “fandom” is the nicest community I’ve been in and I can’t wait to meet more people at the D.C. Pen Show.
Hey, I just returned from my study abroad trip to Rome! It was such an amazing experience. I geeked out over all the Roman ruins and museums I saw. My favorite places included Ostia Antica, an ancient port town outside of Rome, the Forum, the Baths of Caracalla, and the Capitoline Museum. There was also a set of tenement apartments from the 100-400s C.E. that had cool fresco paintings and was underneath a medieval church. As an anthropology and art history double major, I was so happy to see the objects I studied in class. Stationery-wise, I didn’t see many high-quality notebooks. I found two nice ones in gift shops but I forgot to take pictures of them. I’ll try to upload them this weekend and do a quick review.
I saw some notebooks in the local pharmacy but I didn’t buy them. The paper seemed thin and floppy.
Here are some of my favorite pictures I took in Rome!
I’m going on a study abroad trip to Rome! Of course, my favorite part of packing is deciding what notebooks I will bring with me! Since this is a short overseas trip I don’t want to risk flying with fountain pens. So here’s my list:
Rhodia webbie notebook for journaling about my trip
Baron Fig vanguard just in case I have any time to write stories
Leuchtturm1917 Pocket Journal for writing down lists and random story ideas
Papermate ink joy pens
Roll of washi tape to paste in memorabilia
Regular spiral bound notebook for schoolwork
And that’s it! I’m not staying for too long otherwise I would bring more. I’ll try to look out for any cool notebooks in Italy!
In other news, I’m going to be super busy after this trip. After my return flight, I’m working on an archaeological dig for six weeks. I probably won’t be posting that much. I hope my few readers understand this hiatus! I should be back to more regular posting by July 10. Have a great summer!
Hi, welcome to my blog notebookjoy! My name is Sara and I’m a college student that loves stationery!
Since I was a child, I used copious amounts of notebooks, pens and art supplies. My favorite part of going back to school was shopping for supplies. My obsession with Ticonderoga pencils, colorful notebooks, and Bic Crystal pens lasted for a long time. But over the years, I lost my enthusiasm for stationery, stressed out by school and college admissions.
One day, I read a forum thread talking about fountain pens. At first, I mocked it. Who even used fountain pens in the 21st century? But later, I came back to it. All the pretty pens and inks drew me in. Soon, I became obsessed. I went to DC Supershow 2016 and that was it.
Quality stationery motivates me to write more. Instead of typing first drafts on my computer, I write it by hand. It’s much more fun when I can use bright teal ink! Now, I have almost three A5 notebooks filled and 12 (!!!) pocket notebooks finished over the past year and a half.
I thought of starting a blog but was too nervous. But I want to help people make informed decisions about products before they buy them. I know reviews were helpful for me when I was a newbie. As a student, I still struggle to find good notebooks that work with my fountain pens, are portable, not too expensive, etc. However, I do have some good notebooks that I’ll write reviews on in the future.