Making my A5 Finsbury Work


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Hello everyone. Two weeks have gone by again with no post from me. My work is taking up so much more of my time than before the big move. And last week was an emotional rollercoaster; we found a home we loved, put an offer on it, negotiated back and forth and ultimately walked away from it. We are bruised but determined to continue the search. We were out again today looking at property and I was hopeful I could find a quiet hour or two to write this. And here I am.

Anyone who has read this blog for awhile knows I like to change planners. I don’t think I’ve been able to complete a full calendar year in one planner ever. And I’ve had to change mine out again as my life gets increasingly more complicated and I have more things to keep track of.

In December of last year I moved into my Hobonichi. I loved it and I still love it. The paper is amazing and it’s a great size and weight for my bag. But I found myself putting in loads of post-its and running out of room for my lists. My life has been one never-ending list since April. I think as soon as I landed in Halifax I found myself thinking about my A5 Finsbury to help organize my hectic life.

Then came the hunt for inserts. It’s the middle of the year so I thought undated would be my only option. I went to ebay and found some great undated inserts. But ebay is not instant and I am an impatient girl. I remembered the vast sea of free inserts available on Philofaxy and headed over there. And found exactly what I was looking for.

Philofaxy is a website devoted to all things Filofax. It is a terrific resource if you are trying to determine what kind of Filofax is right for you, or to buy/sell your Filofaxes, or to find a meetup in your area, or to find inserts. Steve and Ray have made inserts available to the community which is great, and you can customize them to your own needs. Over the years and many different planners I know that I need a month on two pages as well as a weekly view. I can function without a daily page as long as I have a lot of space to write lists. So under the A5 2016 inserts I downloaded the Month on Two Pages with Notes, as well as the Week on Two Pages Enhanced TM (5 line version). It took a few tries to print them out correctly but that is down to me and not to the excellent instructions that accompany the inserts.

Actually I should back up a bit. Before I printed them I added dates I wanted to remember on the monthly pages (like birthdays and anniversaries) and a detailed to-do list on the first week I printed. That’s the great thing about printing your own inserts; you can add the stuff you want to see before you hit print. And you can’t beat the price!

week with pen

Here’s a picture of the week on two pages. I kept the pictures for this post deliberately fuzzy because it is my life and it is personal. View them on Philofaxy for better detail. The paper I used to print them is standard copier paper but takes fountain pen ink well, as well as gel ink. So I can use a variety of pens.

month on two pages

Here is the month on two pages.

week on left

I have said before that this layout works really well for me. I like being able to see my week at a glance.

tasks on right

This is a definite improvement on just a lined page. Although some weeks I just start my task list on Monday and keep going.

I’ve been using this system for June and July and I feel much more on top of things. We’ll see how long it lasts. I’m hoping it will last until the end of the year at least. To be honest the size and weight are not ideal. It’s always a struggle between lots of space to write and an ungainly size and weight. Wish me luck.:)

Custom Notebooks from Bookblock Original


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Hello everyone! Apologies for the two weeks between blog posts; it’s been a busy couple of weeks. But I really wanted to share this post with you today. I’m really excited about the product so couldn’t wait to share it with you, after it finally reached me (due to moving, sigh).

Imagine being able to take any photo or piece of artwork and turn it into a journal cover! That’s what the folks at Bookblock in the UK do. They’ve been offering custom notebooks to brands and agencies since 2013. They recently added a new offering, Bookblock Original, which allows individuals to create a completely unique, one off notebook on their website, with full bleed digitally printed covers. And they have created custom notebooks for this website!!


For about the same price as a Moleskine anyone can order a notebook with any artwork digitally printed onto the covers. The notebooks are printed in the UK on recycled paper. And the price includes shipping: $26 US or thereabouts. You can add your own photos or artwork plus graphic details such as stickers or speech bubbles. You can choose the colour of the elastic and the colour of the background (spine and edges). You can choose the type of paper: Ruled, Plain or Dot Grid on 90gsm ivory, or Sketch on 140gsm Cartridge.

Back in February of this year the folks at Bookblock contacted me, to see if I would be interested in reviewing one of their notebooks. I agreed and the process began. We discussed artwork and ended up with them designing something around my blog name. I really love the finished product.


Image Bookblock sent me during the customization process.

It took awhile for the books to reach me. A LONG while. As I’ve mentioned here before we had some major problems with our mail forwarding. And the customer service at Bookblock were really fantastic about it. The three books shown above were sent to my previous address as we were starting the move process. And when I still hadn’t seen them by the end of May Phoebe at Bookblock sent me two more. So generous of them and I really appreciate it. In a crazy twist, BOTH packages arrived at my new address on the same day! Strange how the postal system works sometimes.


First let me say the notebooks are gorgeous. The soft-touch, vegan leather covers are smooth and lovely to touch. They have collaborated with a bookbinder in the UK to create the hand-crafted notebooks in small batches. And the quality shows.


Image from Bookblock. You don’t often see a white elastic and I quite like it!

The binding is excellent; the book lays flat out of the box. I received two lined and three blank.

lay flat

There are several different kinds of custom notebooks you can choose from on the website: Monsieur Notebook, Moleskine, Castelli, GF Smith, and of course the Bookblock brand. The digitally printed notebooks look to be exclusively Monsieur Notebook (sound familiar? Check out my review of their notebooks here); all of my journals are Monsieur Notebook.


Each notebook has a place for your details, but no index.


The Moleskine A5 is slightly smaller than this notebook, which comes in at almost 6″ x 8″. Both notebooks are 0.6 mm ruling. The Moleskine has a pocket in the back cover; these notebooks do not. (It is a feature you can add with a custom order.) Both notebooks have an elastic and a ribbon but of course you can add your own combination with Bookblock, which I think is super cool. Blue and Green, Green and Pink, or Orange and Orange, it’s up to you. They actually have a long list of add-ons: in addition to the pocket you can add a custom presentation box (always an elegant touch), pen loop, belly band, and printed inserts. You could also have a full colour logo, foiled or debossed logo. These customizations are not all available for the one off notebooks.

comparison covers

Now my poor photography looks even poorer against the beautiful images from Bookblock! But you can see in this photo the Bookblock notebook is slightly wider than the Moleskine.

comparison spines

The ribbon on my much-loved Hobbit Moleskine is definitely fraying, compared to the brand new ribbon on the Bookblock notebook. Time will tell if this ribbon will remain so pristine.

comparison pages

No notebook review would be complete without the ink test!

pen test

The paper is 90 gsm as mentioned previously, and it takes fountain pen ink relatively well. You’ll notice I smeared the ink on purpose to test the drying time and it is about 4 seconds. The Waterman Kultur pen didn’t show feathering but the other fountain pens definitely did.

waterman no bleed

The blue ink above is Waterman Serenity Blue in a Waterman Kultur. I was very impressed with the performance on this paper. The gel ink of the Pilot Coleto was perfect but then again it’s always perfect! And actually every other writing instrument (gels and highliter and pencil) looked flawless on this paper.

twsbi bleed through

I was surprised at the feathering with the TWSBI and the Visconti, inked with Waterman Absolute Brown and Paradise Pen Vineyard Burgundy respectively. It’s not terrible but definitely noticeable.

jinhao bleed through

Arguably the Jinhao is the wost for feathering, and understandable I guess because it has the wettest nib of the three pens. Again it’s a Waterman ink: Inspired Blue.


A bit of show through but not the worst I’ve seen, that’s for sure. 

writing sample

Undeterred by feathering I wrote three pages with my Waterman Kultur (review coming) and I think the writing looks great. Really enjoyed the writing experience; paper is smooth and the Kultur sailed over it. The messy bit at the very top of this page was created by me, trying to get one of my pens to start writing.

I was disappointed that the fountain pen ink had such varied results in terms of feathering. I also would have liked an index. As a notebook collector I have a number of A5 journal covers, it being my size of choice. It’s too bad that these notebooks are an inch too wide to fit in a standard A5 cover.

note from phoebe

Having said all that, I do not hesitate in recommending this company. They did provide me with free notebooks but that did not sway this review. My words and thoughts are my own. They wanted honest feedback and I have given it. I like how individualized these notebooks can be and I do not think the price is too high, considering it includes shipping. The customization possibilities are vast and if there is something you want but can’t figure out on the website their customer service team is excellent. And the books are excellent quality that take fountain pen ink reasonably well.

If you want one custom notebook or one thousand, check out and


Saying Good-Bye to World Mail Panel Postal Surveys



Back in March of 2014 I started processing postal surveys for I received letters from all over the world and recorded details about them on the website. I returned electronic transponders to their offices in Germany. I filled two Leuchtturm jottbooks (one small, one large) with the details and the stamps from all over the world.

purple jott book

The small purple jottbook that started it all.

In February of 2015 I finished the first notebook and moved into an A5 jottbook.


And then in November of 2015 they asked me to start sending letters as well as continuing to receive them. I agreed and a new notebook was needed.


Once again I turned to a Leuchtturm but an actual notebook this time, with the elastic closure and pocket in the back. However I quickly found that it wasn’t needed; for Letters Sent I only had to keep records for a week, whereas for the Letters Received I had to keep those for three months.

The really fun part was looking at all the stamps from around the world.






And I made some money doing all this! They paid me around $15 Cdn per month to receive the letters and that increased to around $20 when I started sending letters. Since I joined I have redeemed just under $500 in gift certificates for Amazon and credits for my PayPal account. They also offer occasional bonuses based on participation.

All of this coming to an end soon.😦 I notified them in April that I would be moving to a new province, and unfortunately they do not require surveys to be conducted in this demographic. I still receive the occasional letter but it has slowed down to a trickle. I am very close to having enough points to redeem $100 in gift certificates. I am sad because this was alot of fun and very interesting. If any of you are interested check them out at

Maybe someday they will need my services again, and I’ll be ready!

Visconti Millennium Arc Three LE



Before I left Calgary I visited my favorite pen store, Reid’s, one last time (or so I thought). I was hoping they could help me with the faulty feed on my Noodler’s pen but they couldn’t. As I was leaving I spied a pen in one of the display cases and I just had to take a closer look.

journal page

I was drawn to the swirling blue with a slight hint of green. I asked them about it and they told me it was a Visconti Millennium Arc Three LE. It was expensive so I left without it that day. I couldn’t get it out of my head though, and when David asked me what I wanted for our 10th anniversary, this pen was the first thing I thought of.

This Millennium Arc Three LE are slightly different from the Millennium Arc Rainbow and Twilight versions released in 2015. These first Millennium Arcs were released in 2000 to celebrate the beginning of the third millennium. They were a limited edition that Visconti released in 3 translucent colours: red (Millennium One), amber (Millennium Two) and blue (Millennium Three). Visconti produced 1,000 of each of the colours and numbered them. Mine is marked 0401/1000. They originally came in a set of three in a special case which included a travelling inkwell. Reid’s had the other two pens available but were selling them individually, no case or inkwell. They promised me a great deal if I bought all three but I knew the budget wouldn’t stretch that far! Penporium has the complete set with inkwell available for $1,895 US.

close up

The body is translucent so you can see the nib and section behind the swirls. I think this is a stunning finish, much nicer than the more recent Millennium Arc offering. Go to the Cowan’s Auctions site to see the amber and red finishes. The amber is trimmed in yellow gold, while the red is trimmed in white gold. And the blue is trimmed in ruthenium.


Each pen has a silicon sac that fills via a crescent filling system. You can see the “hump” of silver in the picture above; the clear collar underneath is movable. A lock ring rotates around the barrel. Rotated one way, the ring locks the crescent from being pressed; rotated the other way and the ring unlocks, exposing a break in the collar which allows the crescent to be depressed. When depressed a metal bar squeezes against the silicon sac. The nib and section are submerged in ink and the metal bar is squeezed a couple of times, filling the sac with ink. The sac is apparently guaranteed by Visconti for 100 years. I have registered it so maybe my descendants will test out that warranty!


Here’s a closeup of the 18k two-tone broad nib. You can see the limited edition numbers engraved on the left side: 0401/1000. Absolutely stunning to look at, and a very smooth writer. It is inked with Waterman Inspired Blue, a great complement to the barrel I think.

visconti clip

I adore this pen. It’s the second Visconti I own, and the first crescent filler. The Rembrandt has the distinctive Visconti clip, which the Millennium is missing. That was a little disappointing but I understand why they designed the clip to match the crescent mechanism.

It’s a glorious wet writer now but when I first inked it up after an initial cleaning there were quite a few skips and hard starts. It seemed like the nib needed work and I was nervous about finding someone to work on it. I had to remind myself that this pen had been sitting in a store for 16 years. But with almost constant use since April it’s now a very reliable writer. It will often spark a conversation when I bring it to work or to a coffee shop for a journal writing session.

multiple pens horizontal

See how the Millennium compares to some of my other pens. From left: Nemosine Singularity in blue marble, Delta Journal in pearl red, Monteverde Prima in green, Jinhao 159 in black, and the vintage Waterman Junior in black. The red in the top corner is of course my Visconti Rembrandt.

Beautiful addition to my collection and I am extremely pleased with this very generous gift from my wonderful husband. And yes he got a great anniversary present too: a super telephoto lens for his SLR camera. We spoiled ourselves but hey we made it to 10 years so we deserved it!

William Hannah Notebook #Becausewritinghelps


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I first saw a review of a William Hannah Notebook on YouTube, on the Pen and Inkwell channel. First there was the unboxing video and then about a month later the full notebook review. I was really impressed with the design and the colours. I went to the website and subscribed to the newsletter, and talked about it briefly in this post. After that post a correspondence began between myself and David Round, the man behind William Hannah Limited. David was good enough to offer me a generous discount on the price of a notebook of my choosing, and I couldn’t pass that up.

I placed the order and then patiently waited for it to arrive. It took longer than expected and I have to say David’s customer service is outstanding. He emailed me often, concerned about the time it was taking for that particular shipment method, and how he was considering going with another carrier. I was getting ready for my move so was perhaps preoccupied but he was very quick to offer to send another notebook, exactly the same as the one I ordered, to replace the one that had seemingly gone astray. Luckily on the very day he was ready to ship the new one, the original one arrived and I was able to let him know. We were both thrilled that it had finally arrived. The situation cemented his decision to use another supplier for international shipments.

black box

Right from the beginning the experience of these notebooks is pure luxury. And David assured me this presentation is what anyone who orders a notebook can expect. The box reminds me of the boxes Filofax binders used to come in. Beautiful cloth box that opens to the left, embossed with WH for William Hannah. I must ask him what ink he used in his note – beautiful green.

note from david

tissue paper

It looks and feels like unwrapping a high end leather good; a little piece of heaven. I ordered one of the off-the-shelf combinations; you are also able to fully customize the cover, lining, stitching and type and colour of paper. More on that later.


There she is! The Whiskey cover. I fell in love the minute I saw it on the website and in real life the colour is just glorious; a very deep, rich brown with light undertones. The covers come in the following colours: Agave, Black, Bordeaux, Red Chili, and Whiskey. Bordeaux is a beautiful choice too; the lady from the Pen and Inkwell ordered the Bordeaux cover with the Petrol lining.


Here is a close-up of the pin, which is laser engraved with WH. The company has just introduced a pen loop that hooks into this pin, and future accessories could attach in a similar fashion. The stitching is perfect. And you can just see the gorgeous Kingfisher lining!

first page

OMG that turquoise blue! Italian suede lining with flawless stitching. The linings are available in the following colours: Lime, Petrol, Fuchsia, Kingfisher, Navy, Orange, Royal Blue, Ultra Violet, and Crimson. All of them are vibrant, saturated colour. And you can customize any cover with any lining.

The binding system will remind you of the ARC system, which is fantastic, as it lets you easily add and remove pages, and move the sections of your notebook around. The rings are engineered in England from 303 gauge stainless steel, which means they will last a very long time and never tarnish. They look great and the paper moves easily around them. And for first-timers a handy instruction page is included. I do not know if William Hannah is planning to release a punch to allow you to add your own pages to the notebook, as the ARC system does. I don’t have my ARC punch with me to see if it works with this system. I will experiment with it once it and the rest of my belongings arrive!


And the paper! The heart of any notebook. William Hannah uses 100 gsm paper, which fountain pen users will appreciate. Just as the cover and lining are customizable, so is the paper. They offer lined, 5 mm dot grid, 5 mm grid, plain, printed week to a page, undated week to a page, and to do list, in 50 and 100 page packs. And the dots, grid and lines can be in the colour of your choice! I love that feature. You can match your paper to your lining or your cover or have a contrasting colour.


Here’s a closeup of my lined paper. When you place your order you have 60 pages to design. I chose 30 lined with Kingfisher coloured ink; 10 dot grid in Crimson; and 20 grid in Lime.

grid paper

Here’s a close up of the Lime grid.

dot grid

And here’s a close up of the Crimson dot grid.

cloe up on papers

David also included a sample pack so I could see the other inks on the different papers. Love that Kingfisher ink in the grid pattern.

different line colours

The different inks lend themselves to high customization, to make the notebook uniquely yours. You could even coordinate the ink to your colour-coding system in your planner. The possibilities are endless.

w hannah writing

And now for the all important ink test! I love writing on this paper. All of the pens and pencil I tried were super smooth. And there was no ghosting or bleed through. Here’s a closeup – no feathering on the fountain pen ink.

ink test

The blue ink is Waterman Inspired Blue and a perfect match to the lining and the line colour. Beautiful!

halley approves

Even Halley approves! And don’t forget to check out William Hannah on various social media; their Instagram posts are truly inspirational.


These notebooks are expensive: £95. In my opinion, worth it. I bought mine with a healthy discount in return for an objective and honest review. All of the thoughts in this post are my own. My experience was amazing from start to finish, truly. From the outstanding customer service to the amazing product, I cannot recommend this company enough. You will not be disappointed with this notebook.

I remember reading in one of the newsletters that the company got the chance to show Liberty’s of London their notebooks, in the hopes of reaching a merchandising deal. From what I understand Liberty is a very popular and high end store, specializing in luxury goods from many different manufacturers. And they were extremely interested in these notebooks, but to make a profitable deal, William Hannah would have to down-grade the material and mechanisms. No agreement was reached because William Hannah would not compromise on excellence. And that commitment to their product and your satisfaction is evident in everything they do. I’m not being paid to say that – I just really love a company that makes a fine product and stands by their convictions.

Thank you William Hannah Limited and David Round for this beautiful notebook, which will become a family treasure I’m sure.

Well Hello Again


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Hello everyone! I am back, finally. The move is, essentially, over. Some aspects of our lives have unfolded beautifully in our new home, others disastrously. I am married to the most hard working, patient, incredible man who would be a world Tetris champion based on his POD packing skills! And our two fur babies were absolute angels as they navigated moves from a plane to an apartment to an hotel and then another apartment (remember I said some aspects disastrous, and that’s only one!) So now I am very happy to be digitally connected once again, and grateful to anyone who might still be reading!

I flew to Halifax with the cats and some important essentials, like a couple of notebooks, one bottle of ink (it was so difficult to choose just one!) and ALL of my pens. David drove across the country and I had one box in the car with the rest of my essentials (more notebooks and lots more ink!) There are still more notebooks and bottles of ink in our moving container. We honestly shed a lot of possessions, but kept those most precious to us. For David it was his musical gear; for me, my writing gear. Tables and sofas come and go but…..:)

Before I left Calgary I added something to my writing gear. As you may have heard the world celebrated the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth/death this year, on April 23. While I could not fly to England to participate in any of the exciting celebrations planned throughout this year, I was inspired by a regular email from Pen Heaven to purchase a pewter feather quill pen with holder and ink bottle. I had it sent to my new office and it was waiting for me when I arrived. Such a nice welcome present! Someday I hope to visit the Pen Heaven store in London.

quill box

The set is made in Italy and the packaging is gorgeous.

quill open box

The inside is gorgeous too. I chose the brown feather and I love how ornate the base looks. The bottle of ink fits into the holder as well. And there is some literature on the history of quill pens and how to write with one.

quill in stand

I thought it would look really stunning on my desk. The ink bottle contains black ink and the bottle says Inchiostro Stylografico NERO La Kaligraphica Made in Italy. According to Google Translate this means Black Ink Stylografico La Kaligraphica. I’m sure this is calligraphy ink and not meant for regular fountain pens.

quill stand closeup

Here’s a closeup of the base and holder. The ink bottle was wax sealed. I think it’s extremely good craftsmanship for the price. I just realized I didn’t take a photo of the nib but you can see it magnified on the Pen Heaven page referenced above.


The ink is a true coal black. I will have to perfect my technique; the first line came out beautifully but then I had difficulty with the rest with ink blobs and running out of ink. Even if the pen turns out to be more decorative than useful I still love it. I’m sure when my desk arrives it will look great in the corner. Hopefully that will be next week!

It feels good to be back online and writing these posts again. I’m not sure if I will keep the same schedule as before; I’m working longer hours and my set up is much different. We’ll have to see how I get on. Until next time, whenever that is, thank you for your patience, thank you for sticking around and happy journaling!

inlovewithjournals on hiatus

Hello. Just a short note tonight to let you know I am taking some time off from the blog to focus on my upcoming move. There might be the occasional post but largely I will be absent from this space for the next month. I will miss it but will resume just as soon as I can hook up the internet in my new place.

Happy journaling everyone!!

Journal Writing Wednesday: 7 pages

What I’m currently using: the Paperblanks Blue Filigree journal, the Seven Seas Writer, and the Franklin Christoph Notebook.

Total pages written since this post (Apr 6): 7

Total pages to date since project inception (Dec 11/13): 1608

Total pages written in 2016: 165

I have not had a chance to clean out my Noodler’s Ahab; moving and starting a new job (remotely) is taking its toll. So I’ve been grabbing my Parker Urbans (the blue and the brown) at work, without incident. They are so reliable it’s slightly ridiculous.

I will announce the pen for May on April 27.

No purchases this week – no time or money!

Some points covered this week in my journals:

  • We are furiously checking things off lists for our upcoming move. We have a place to live and beds to sleep on in the new city (they will be delivered the day before I arrive). Today I booked passage for my kittens to join me on the airplane. The moving pod has been ordered and boxes filled. The process of letting go has begun. We find ourselves acknowledging when we do something “for the last time.” Bittersweet.
  • A friend’s husband passed away this week. It’s heartbreaking but puts into sharp focus what is important in life: embracing your situation where you find yourself and making the most of it, because you never know what tomorrow brings. Her experience is one of the reasons we are going on this cross-country adventure. Carpe diem!

Happy journaling everyone!


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