A little bit of everything…

Category Archives: Review

I love it. The cap posts and still allows lead advancement. 

No eraser isn’t a big deal to me as I tend to carry a click or block eraser. 

Super quick n dirty pen review of the Promarx Sketchy pens. BIC stick pen used for size comparison. So far I like them. ^_^

Super quick n dirty pen review of the Promarx Sketchy pens. BIC stick pen used for size comparison. So far I like them. ^_^ 

I splurged on some fun things. ^_^

There is no apparent skipping. I have experienced some ink blabbing but I did just open the pack and remove the tip seals today. I’ve noticed some pens take a day to adjust to the working life. For ballpoint pens, the colors are nice. For the $1.99 price tag, I am a happy pen addict.  

Promarx Sketchy pens are out of the package. #newpens  #penaddict #addictedtorainbows

My Plannerd Week Nine

Another week has come and gone. I used my Zebra NuSpiral a lot. It’s comfortable and the fine black ballpoint is great for jotting down tasks in my Paperblanks planner.

During a recent shopping trip, I grabbed a pack of BIC For Her marker pens. The black, purple and pink pens have 0.5 porous points. I was thrilled that they don’t bleed or show through the planner paper at all. (I did the test on the lower left near the month calendar if you’re looking.) The designs on the bodies are fun. I like them. They are similar to Poppin fineliners and Sharpie fine pens (not markers). The decorated bodies add something different the others don’t offer. The BIC marker pens also come in a pack of black, blue, red and green with black & silver bodies if the purple and pink aren’t your thing. Have you tried these pens? What do you think?

Be well.

Have you visited JetPens before? If you answered “No” then quickly read through this review and then go browse. I fear if you click now, you’ll be lost in the world of awesomely unique, high-quality writing instruments and stationery products, many imported from Japan and Germany. Seriously, I have spent so much time browsing through their pens, pencils, notebooks, and other goodies over the years. Plus they have top-notch customer service and free shipping on orders over $25. What’s not to love?

I was delighted to find an envelope in my mailbox from JetPens. I didn’t make any purchases so this had to be special. I opened it and, to my delight, found a Pentel Quick Dock 0.5 pencil to review. I love Pentel mechanical pencils and their lead. I own several different models and have very few complaints. In fact, I own the U.S. version of the Pentel Quick Dock 0.7 already.

Quick Dock package front

First let’s take a look at the packaging. The bright colors are eye-catching. I was sent the green pencil body and the pink and blue cartridges. The clear windows let you see the enclosed pieces.

Quick Dock package back.

Quick Dock refill instructions.

The backside has (what I assume) are the directions. Luckily JetPens includes these on the item page.

To refill your pencil:
1. Pull out the empty lead cassette out by gripping and pulling the pencil cap.
2. Screw the pencil cap onto the new refill cassette.
3. Pop the new refill into the pen body.

I was trying to remove the cartridges by pulling on the tiny eraser end. It is MUCH easier to screw on the cap and then remove the cartridges. Thank you JetPens!

Green body, pink & blue cartridges.

Pink cartridge loaded.Blue cartridge loaded.
The convenient cartridge is the main selling feature of the Pentel Quick Dock. If you’re a mechanical pencil user, you have battled those fragile leads. Some pencils let you pop out the eraser and drop in the leads. Lose that eraser and you are so out of luck. Other pencils allow you to carefully feed the lead into the dispensing mechanism. That can be like threading a needle. The Quick Dock eliminates any chance of dropping or breaking the lead during refills. Each of the cartridges come with 12 leads. After those 12 are used up, you simply pop out the empty cartridge and pop in a new one. I love this added convenience especially if I run out of lead while away from home. I haven’t tried to refill one of the cartridges yet but I will. If they are not refillable, I’d love to find out if the empty cartridges are recyclable.

Pentel Quick Dock color combinations
The color combinations are a fun feature of this version of the Pentel Quick Dock. This photo from JetPens shows the variations that are possible from combining three different colored refill cartridges with four available body colors. What a fun and unique mechanical pencil feature!

U.S. Quick Dock (top) Japan Quick Dock (bottom)

The very important retractable tip.

Both versions are comfortable to use and great additions to a #dailyarsenal. The contoured grip is nicely shaped and ridged for added writing pleasure. I love that the tips fully retract so there is nothing to snag a sweater or jab you if you place it in your pocket and sit down. I’ve come to value both features a great deal. I also like that the clips are metal and not plastic as they are far more durable.

U.S. Pentel Quick Dock 0.7

The only other notable difference between the U.S. and Japan version is the eraser. The U.S. version has a substantially larger eraser that twists to advance and no screw off cover. This doesn’t have to be a deal breaker. I tend to carry around one of Pentel’s Click Erasers for large erasing jobs.

I decided to do a hand-written summary of the Pentel Quick Dock. You’ll see the lead provides a nice dark line and erases cleanly when needed. Overall, out of sheer personal preference, I prefer the U.S. version, but both pencils are awesome. Please note that when I follow the directions, both pencil’s cartridges are equally easy to swap so the main difference is just the eraser/cap.

Pentel Quick Dock 0.5 writing sample.

I hope you liked this deeper look at a great pencil. JetPens has four different body colors, each with two lead cartridges for $7.50 and three different color refill lead cartridges for $2.75. It isn’t the cheapest mechanical pencil option but it is a colorfully fun and convenient one!

Many thanks to JetPens for supplying this pencil to review. Please note that these opinions are my own and were not influenced by outside forces.

Be well.

Have you ever seen something online and knew you had to have it? The first time I saw a Midori Traveler’s Notebook my heart skipped a beat. There is something very exotic and desirable about Japanese stationery, especially expensive unavailable Japanese stationery. I did a little poking around and couldn’t find any retailers stateside. I did find an abundance of photos to enjoy over on Flickr; there are even groups dedicated to the Midori Traveler’s Notebook. If I couldn’t have one, I’d live vicariously through people who could.

Fast forward a few years and things have changed. The Midori line is now available stateside. One online option is Mymaido.com where both the traditional size and the new passport size Traveler’s Notebooks are for sale. /swoon/ If you’ve never dropped by mymaido.com, I recommend making a visit. The company is great. The shipping is prompt (and free for orders over $25) and the customer service is sublime. Maido Stationery stores are located in California. Their About Us page sums up things quite well:

“Our company’s mission is to make our wide range of high-end stationery products available to customers in the US market. To this end, we largely carry items that are otherwise very difficult, if not impossible, to find outside of Japan. We only stock products adhering to our highest quality standards in mechanism, make, material, design, and technology.”

Andrew from Maido contacted me and asked if I might like to review some products. I jumped at the chance, literally bounced around for an embarrassing minute or two. When the first mystery package arrived, I didn’t know what to expect. Behold – The Midori Traveler’s Notebook in convenient Passport Size. How did he know??

Midori Passport Traveler's Notebook

The notebook is packaged very well. It arrived inside a plastic envelope, cardboard box, and a protective cotton slip case. There is a spare elastic which I’ve read can be used to hack the Midori to hold extra refills. I’m not sure whether or not I’ll be altering this beauty. The notebook cover is leather. One elastic band wraps around the middle and holds it shut while the other runs the length of the spine and holds the insert. There is a thin bookmark which locks into place by fitting into a notch in the leather at the bottom of the spine. Goodness this thing is beautiful.

Refill options

My first thought went to the refills. If I can find something on-hand or DIY it, I will. I grabbed a Moleskine cahier and a Doane Paper utility sized notebook from my notebook stash. No dice. These pocket notebooks run 3.5 inches by 5.5 inches.


The Midori passport refill size is 9cm (3.5 inches) by 12cm (4.7 inches). I do have one small notebook that will work. It’s not a standard one and I received it as a gift. (It’s the printed one on the right in the above photo). If you recognize it, please contact me so I can share the details on where to find them. Until I find a source for notebooks this size, I will be making my own. Refills won’t need to be perfect either – I can probably whip several together quickly because imperfections will be hidden by the gorgeous leather cover.

Midori paper

The notebook comes with a plain refill containing “80 perforated pages of blank paper.” This paper is rather thin. I grabbed a nice pile of black pens from my arsenal and made a test page in the back of the refill. There was minimal bleed-through but the show-through might be a deterrent for writing on both faces of the pages. I’ve been thinking I might use a pencil or a 0.4 gel pen.

Graph, lined, calendars and “Blank MD Paper” refill options are all available. The Blank MD refill states “Has an excellent writing surface with absolutely no bleeding or feathering at all. Comes with 64 pages.” I might have to give it a try. Thicker paper should stand up better to all of these pens and maybe even a fountain pen. It would be fun to test out.

midori and everything book

I haven’t decided what I’ll be using this beauty for yet. It seems like I should have a special purpose for it. I know the leather will only look better with more use so it may just become a daily holder of lists. For now I carry it around and pet it. My Uni-Ball Kuru Toga seems to like it too.

I want to thank Andrew from mymaido.com for sending this dream-come-true to me.

I hope you enjoyed this peak at the Midori Traveler’s Notebook. Take care and be well.

ADDENDUM: The amazing Carina of Crow & Canary fame let me know that the small notebook is a Scout Book. The size is 3.5 inches by 5 inches. I just retested it in the Midori cover and it looks fab!

Have you ever visited Comfortable Shoes Studio? Leslie Herger is an artist through and through. I’ve had the privilege of chatting with her on multiple occasions via Twitter. She’s amazing! I stalk her site and visit her Flickr photostream often.

Leslie’s one line bio is perfect. “I’m a bookbinder with a DayJob just trying to find my way to making art.” Her blog is a great window into her artistic adventures. She also runs an Artfire shop where she sells amazing handmade journals and notebooks along with original paintings. When she offered to send me a sample of her bookbinding work to enjoy, I couldn’t say no.

Comfortable Shoes Studio Jotters

Leslie generously sent me three jotters. They are a very convenient 3.5 inches by 5.5 inches. She uses old advertising posters for the covers. Each design is different and very graphic. You might end up with a letter or word or just abstract color. The three she sent me have a few letters but only one has a complete word on what I have positioned as the back cover. (I like the graphic nature of the mysterious letters over a complete word.)

Comfortable Shoes Studio Jotter

The paper inside varies to what she has on hand. My three contained a different paper in each, including Fox River 100% Recycled Ninja Speckled (ha ninja! I love it!), Environmental by Southworth, and Neenah Environment. The paper is 24lb and only one notebook had some printing on one side of the inner pages. Each notebook has between 40 to 60 pages. The jotters are stitched with a sewing machine with cotton thread. I can tell you, these are going to hold up to a lot of abuse.

Comfortable Shoes Studio Jotter

I’m not going to do a paper test because Leslie utilizes materials she has on hand and I’m sure they vary from batch to batch. From experience, 24lb paper should hold up well to even wet writers. Some fountain pen inks might want to feather a bit but I don’t predict having any problems.

Comfortable Shoes Studio Jotter

A lot of people love cahier style notebooks, pocket sized jotters are handy for notes, lists and random drawings. They fit comfortably in purses, bags, pockets, and glove compartments. I love making my own but not let’s face it, not everyone has time and energy. Instead of supporting big faceless companies, why not support handmade artists like Leslie? I just peaked and her shop is stocked full of great recycled jotters and other notebooks for great prices. Go take a peak!

I hope you enjoyed this review. Take care and be well.

1000_journal_pages_cover Once upon a time, I added an amazing book to my Christmas gift wish list. “1000 Artist Journal Pages” is a feast for the creative spirit. It is beyond eye candy but can certainly entertain and tantalize your visual senses.

Not long before that book was unwrapped and added to my shelf, I began following the talented Dawn DeVries Sokol on Twitter @dawndsokol. Meeting published artists makes me giggly and a bit nervous, even through the computer. Dawn is an awesome person to chat with and her website is amazing.

Needless to say when she said her new book “Doodle Diary: Art Journaling for Girls” was coming out I knew I had to have it. When a copy showed up from the publisher to review on this blog, I did a little happy dance. Okay so it wasn’t so little but you needn’t get the entire picture of that.

Doodle Diary by Dawn DeVries Sokol


The Doodle Diary is a convenient sized book. At 5.25 by 7.25 inches and a half an inch thick, it is portable and ready to join you anywhere for an adventure. The cover is attractive and eye catching, ripe with Dawn’s doodle-icious artwork. If the cover tickles your fancy, just wait until you peel it back to reveal the pages inside. They are vivacious and invigorating.


Dawn has made this a “anti-block” art journal. Creatives get “the block” often. Our creativity backs up and things coagulate and get stuck. It becomes a struggle to even touch a pen tip to paper. Some times we break out in cold sweats or even develop a nasty facial twitch but this book alleviates this. I can see artists using this book to keep the creative juices flowing freely. Each spread of pages has prompts, tool tips or Dawn’s jump-start artwork. I would love to see someone with a severe enough blockage to resist the powers of this book. Seriously I would – and then I will take you to a doctor to see about getting it removed – surgically.

This book is aimed at girls. The name says it. I am going to say Bah! to that and encourage everyone to pick up a copy. So you’re a guy? Big deal. Collage over the cover and no one will know. Name it “The Manly Man Man Book” and no one will care. Are you too much of an adult? Poo on that. Everyone can use a little play time in their lives. Keep it next to your bed and before you go to sleep, grab a colored pen or marker and let your internal child have some fun. Can’t draw? I have heard this a million times. Grab a pen and make a shape. Now give that shape a face. Like stick figures? So did Picasso! Don’t judge yourself – let the pen take you where it may and then if you don’t like it, blame the pen. (I do it all the time).

I don’t want to ruin the surprise of turning the pages of this book. I want you to experience the “flash” of what comes to mind first when you read the prompts. I think this is entirely too awesome of an experience with this book. It’s like opening a can of soda pop (which I don’t do anymore because I gave up soda but since I miss that sound and feeling I’ll use it for this analogy). I love being able to pick and choose what page to work on next. Bouncing back and forth is encouraged I’m sure!

Here is a shot of one of my favorite Dawn-Doodles in this book. You all know how many pets I have so this spread is going to fill up fast.


Reminding yourself of all the things you have to be happy about is a very beneficial practice. What a great trigger!


Art journaling is something everyone should at least try. Its a great creative way to express yourself and if you’re not sure about tackling a blank sketchbook or you want a portable companion, give Dawn’s book a try.


(A huge thank you to Gibbs Smith Publisher for sending me this review copy and to Dawn for always being an inspiration.)