Monday, 6 August 2012

The "penultimate" pen guide!

Like most of the Filophiles out there, I'm have more obsessions than just Filofaxes. Some of my others include:

Journals/paper products
Scrapbooking supplies (I don't really "scrapbook" in the formal sense, I use the supplies to decorate my journals and Filos)
Make-up (especially lip gloss)
Horse-related products for me and my horse (saddle pads, halters, riding boots, horsey accessories like rings and bracelets, etc)

I have made an effort to reign in my obsessions, mostly because I really have more than I need of pretty much everything. But one of my main obsessions besides my Filofax collection is my Cross Fountain pen collection.

It all started a couple of years ago, when I was shopping at one of my favourite discount stores, a Canadian store called "Winners". This is also the place where my passion for Filofaxes was re-awakened-I had a Filofax years ago and loved it, but had never seen one again, and then suddenly they had tons of them in Winners marked way down! I started buying at least one a year-for a while I was favouring the pocket size and had many of those-I'll do a post on those soon.

For many years I have also had a passion for Fountain pens. I am a person who bears down hard on pens, and I often end up with a painful welt on my middle finger. I am also a prolific "journaler", and have been a freelance writer for years. I could never use an electric organizer, because I love the process of writing things down-I find it very therapeuticic.

Good fountain pens, ones that don't cost a fortune, are very hard to find. For a while Parker made a nice one you could buy at any department store, and I used to hoard these in the fear that they would be discontinued, which, of course, they were. I don't want fancy, silver, diamond encrusted, $200.00 pens, because then they are too precious to use, and I would be afraid to lose them. I want pens I can carry with me and take out and use.

When I came upon the Cross Fountain pens at Winners I bought one, took it home, and tried it out. I was in heaven! These are really the ultimate in Fountain pens. They have a nice weight to them, the ink comes out in a perfectly, smooth flow (I'll talk more about that later) and they have never, ever leaked (I used to have to gingerly open the Parker pen, then swivel up a piece of tissue and push it inside the pen cap to soak up all the ink that had leaked into it before I could use it!). Once I saw how amazing the pens were, I immediately rushed back to the store and bought two more. I was perfectly happy with these, but then experienced a "false alarm" where I thought I had lost two of them (there was a hole in the lining of my purse, and they slipped through the hole-I literally looked high and low for them for weeks, and they were in my purse the whole time!!!) I went on e-bay and bought a couple more, and now I have a pretty complete collection. I have a couple I take
with me, and others I really like that stay here at home, because I don't want to lose them. 

Probably my favourites are a basic, plastic model, that I featured in my previous post about my "horsey" Filofax. I have them in black and pink (I used to have a red one, but I lost it). They come in fun colours, and are true Cross pens, without all the fancy hardware. There is also a rather slim model I like, I originally got in in a salmon colour at Winners all those years ago, and now have a black one that stays here at the house. 

The top three in the above picture are the original ones I bought. They are, from the top, purple, sage green, and salmon. The second from the bottom is one of those great, utilitarian plastic ones I like so much, and the bottom one is my favourite-it is the same type as the third from the top.

This is the pink version of the plastic cross pen-here's how it came in the mail from an e-bay seller. E-bay is the best place to get Cross fountain pens at a reasonable price.

This is a picture of my four faves! The bottom two are the ones that go out of the house with me. The reason I'm not overly fond of the purple and sage ones is they have a shiny silver section where your fingers go, and I don't find it as comfortable as the ones above, which all have nicer "grips" on them.

You can sort of get an idea in the picture above. The real secret of the wonderfulness of the Cross pens, however, lies in the ink cartridges. They have a little ball in them, almost like a ball bearing, if you will, which must be for controlling the ink flow. I tried to take a picture after the cartridge was empty, but it's still hard to see...


That dark shadow in the middle of the cartridge is the magical little ball!

Above is a Cross pen cartridge package. I always use black, I have checked into other colours, but they are hard to find. Packages of black or blue cartridges are readily available at Staples. I prefer black ink, anyway. I'm sort of old-school about that. I NEVER use blue ink. I have an aversion to it!

I love using my pens, and get asked about them all the time. People think it's quirky, but neat! My favourite non-fountain pens to put inside my Filos can be seen below. If only there were a Filofax with pen loops big enough to accommodate my Cross pens!

Monday, 30 July 2012

Hi all! This is a quick response to a question about the colour of the Raspberry Finsbury. It can be very hard to get a feel for the exact colour of our beloved Filofaxes, and it's really frustrating for those of us who do not have Filofax retailers nearby!  I took a couple of pictures I thought might help. I would describe the colour as speckled, because of the grain of the Finsbury. It's a combination of dark and light pink, almost like irregular polka dots, or a tiny leopard print. It's not purple, but more like a pink overlaid with burgundy, or wine, which I really like, because it's not that cutesy pink, Pepto-Bismol colour of the Classic Filo.  I was trying to figure out how to do a colour comparison, and then it hit as yet unused mini-topaz in wine! I grabbed it off the shelf, and the pictures of my big and small Filos follow-hope this helps!

They are both very pretty. I'm not one for coloured Filofaxes, or colour in general-I'm usually drawn to black. But these binders are colourful, while still being subdued/classy. 

My Cross pen (seen in the previous post) is definitely a true, bright pink, if that helps! 

Saturday, 21 July 2012

My horse-themed Filofax!

For a while now I've been meaning to post pictures of the Filofax that really got me into personalizing my Filofaxes. I have been using Filofaxes for years, but was partial to the pocket size-I usually picked a new one up at Winners (a Canadian discount store, similar to TJ Max in the US) around February, and thus have a HUGE collection of Pocket Filos, which I will do a post on soon. 

Last year I took up horse-back riding again after a long time away-20 years, in fact! I had so much fun and enjoyed it so much, I ended up getting my very own horse, a Morgan mare named Molly. But even before I got Molly, while I was taking lessons and getting back into the whole "horse" thing, I wanted a way to keep track of my riding, times at the barn, etc. There is more to riding than people think, and I was extremely rusty and wanted to record my progress as I improved as a rider. I also really like journaling, and tried to journal every time I went riding. It's really a great way to see how you have improved, what you need to work on, etc. Also, if you have a bad day (for example, the other day Molly spooked and I fell off!) you can look back to other good days and remind yourself that it's not a big deal. 

I'm a big believer in the value of journaling-in fact, I really think there are few problems that can't be solved by writing, or a long walk...or both! Though I know most people wouldn't necessarily want to have a horse theme with their Filofax, the idea of a "theme" filofax is something I highly recommend. I like having all my "horse" related stuff together, and it's fun to sit down after I come back from the barn and record everything and make plans for the upcoming days. I am in the process of creating a health/fitness Filofax, too, and will hopefully be able to put up a post about that soon!

So, enough blabbing, I'm going to just get to the pictures!

For my horsey journal I chose the A5 Finsbury in Rasberry. I had initially gotten a Dakota, because I wanted to get the cheapest real leather Filofax I could, just to see if I liked the size, format, etc. The Dakota is not a nice Filofax. It is the cheapest looking/feeling one I have ever seen-the Domino, which is not even leather, is MUCH nicer! Plus, the tab closure on the Dakota started to come apart! So, I called Filofax told them about the problem. I sent the Dakota back, and upgraded to the Finsbury, which I should have just gotten in the first place. Though I usually gravitate towards black organisers, Molly and I have a bit of a pink theme in our apparel, tack, etc, so the Finsbury has been great. 

In the picture above you can see one of the dividers I made from folders I got at Walmart, and the different sections I have for this organiser-they are Monthly, Weekly, Journal, and Goals. I made the labels with my label-maker. 

 You can also see in that picture, nestled in beside on of my standard black Uniball pens, the pink Cross fountain pen I got on e-bay. If there is one thing that rivals my Filofax obsession, it is my obsession with Cross fountain pens. I am going to do a post on them soon, but I have been wrestling with a way to carry my precious pen with me in my Filofax, and I think I have found the easiest way possible-just slip it into the slot reserved for the pad of paper at the back. I've been keeping my pen in that spot now for about a week, and haven't had a single problem.   

Here you can see the pen, and its little black clip, I just slide the clip behind the pocket, and it's in! This particular Cross pen is my favourite type-it is actually plastic, is very sturdy, and comes in a bunch of colours. I splurged on the pink to go with my Finsbury. The top also SCREWS on, which is not the case with all Cross Fountain pens. This makes it perfect for everyday use, and for putting in a my Filo! My main reason for loving Cross fountain pens is the way they write, which is heavenly, so I don't need fancy ones with elaborate casings that cost hundreds of dollars. Those like my pink one are available for under $50.00 on e-bay and are SOOO worth it!

Above you can see the pen clipped in beside the regular pen slot. These Cross fountain pens are way too fat to fit into a Filofax pen loop. I wish the Finsbury pen loops had an elasticised back-in fact, I wish ALL the Filofaxes has an elasticised pen loop!

Above are a couple of pictures to show how well it fits-the pen just snugs in between the other two pens and the paper-for those of you not familiar with the A5 size, the paper and refills are quite a bit smaller than the actual binder.

In my "Monthly" section I keep track of when I ride and go to the barn. I put a "horsey" sticker on the days I do things with Molly, so I can keep a visual record of how often I get to the barn. I board Molly at a barn nearby.

In my weekly diary I set goals and make plans for the week, I decide things I want to work on or do with Molly that week. Then I check them off when I have done them. As you can see, I blinged out my "today" ruler with horsey stickers!

This is a sample of one of my "journal" pages. After much trial and error I decided on the plain Filofax pages. Oddly enough, these pages are compatible with fountain pen ink, whereas the lined, coloured Filofax paper isn't! The lined paper seems to have a sort of "slippery" quality, and the fountain pen ink sort of beads up, instead of sinking in. I can also use my fountain pen on the monthly calendar and the daily diary pages. Maybe it has something to do with the process in making the coloured sheets... As you can see, I just took a paper remnant and made my own "journal" page marker.

These are some images of decorative pages and dividers. In the middle picture is an article that pertains to something I'm working on with Molly. I cut it out of a magazine and attached it to a piece of sturdy scrapbooking paper. Now I can just go to that spot and read the article, instead of trying to find it in one of my many horse magazines! I have it in the goals section, because it's something I want to improve on.

In the image above, you can see how nicely my fountain pen fits in between the pages of the Filofax, and the existing pen loop.

I got a Filofax CD case for my favourite riding DVD-it came with a book but I use the DVD more than the book, so I wanted to keep it in the Filofax. That way, it's always where I can get it quickly.

The polka-dotted pocket is from another organiser I got from Winners, I just took the pocket out of the binder it came in and added extra holes. I keep receipts, info, and other horse magazine articles in there. It's particularly nice because it has pockets on the front and back. I have a few "to do" sheets in this Filofax, again, you can see they are all horse related-things like ordering fly spray and treating her hooves!

I have some Martha Stewart tabs and post-its, and under those is a clear top-opening envelope with all my horse stickers. I like having them in the binder, so that when I am going over my day and recording what I did, they are right there!

As I said, I know most people aren't going to keep a "horse" Filofax, but, like a travel or art themed one, it is a great way to keep track of one specific part of your life!

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Office cleanup unearths treaures!

On Sunday my wonderful mom came over to help me clean and organise my home office. I wish now that I had taken "before" pictures, because the difference is so amazing. It took us all day, and we ended up carting out four boxes of books for donations (don't worry, there are still PLENTY left) and five bags of garbage...ooh, that sounds bad, doesn't it? I'm so excited to have a clear desk for my various creative projects, and to have everything exactly where I can find it. Here are some pics of my newly organised space... 

The above photo is a close-up of the shelves on the right-they are built it. On the top are my "writing" books, then below are books with a creative themes and all my Filofax paraphernalia (I've never had a proper "place" for them before, and always just crammed them in here and there). Below that is a spot with more "artsy" books, sketching, inspiration, creative journaling, etc. beside them (to the left) is my trusty label-maker, pens, and other craft supplies. Below that are scrapbooks and photo-albums, extra papers, and other miscellaneous stuff.

This is a close-up of my "Filo" shelf!

Right beside my desk on the right is a really neat shelving unit from a Canadian store called "Kents", though similar ones would probably be available in most places. I have found this an attractive and useful spot for storing a lot of my creative things. The shelves are square, and you can buy cloth "boxes" with handles that slide in and out like drawers...have a look...

The messy "drawers" look nice and neat when they are pushed in. And I find the cloth "drawers" are perfect for stickers and paper things-they are soft and pliable and can be nicely crammed, and are big and boxy enough that you can just keep things in a big old pile, and paw through them pretty comfortably.

In the process of "culling" (as my mom puts it) I found a plethora of books that I have accumulated over the years-they were gifts or simply ones I bought because I thought they looked "neat", then promptly put away and forgot about. Many have beautiful pages and dividers that could be readily altered and used in my Filos! Take a look!

There is a "health" journal, a "workout log" book, one for recording your dreams, one for creative writing, one for keeping track of book clubs (which I am doing at work in the fall) and your reading habits, and one for lesson planning! Below is just a sampling of some of the neat pages I'll be able to alter to fit in my Filos!

I should also admit that just moments ago, after much deliberation, I ordered the A5 Domino in Ultra-Violet from Filofax! I'm going to be using it as a health/fitness/personal journal. I know, I know I had talked about getting the Metropol zip for work, and using my black Domino for something else, but I've made some adjustments to my black Domino, and I really love it as a professional book! The Domino is a really great binder, nice and light, and still classy looking.

Looking online, I saw a hot pink A5 Domino at Pens and Leather, and in retrospect, I wish I had gotten that one instead of my A5 Rasberry Finsbury. The Dominos are just so fun! It really would have been a better choice for my horsey Filofax-I haven't featured that here yet, but I have a youtube video on it.

Anyway, I have been wanting to get something in a fun colour for my health-themed journal, and I recently found some really pretty divider sheets with purpley, girly colours in them. The A5 Ultra-Violet was on sale, so I just went for it! I'll have posts and videos of it as it evolves!

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Big City Haul!

I'm just back from an overnight trip to the big city, and wanted to show some of the great things I picked up. Here's a picture of everything, all spread out and ready to be used in my Filos!

I purchased these lovely items in two locations:

"Winners"-a store that sells brand-name products at a reduced price, much like T.J. Max or Marshalls for the US readers.

"Michaels"-a craft/art store that sells everything a creative, artsy, paper-and-pen lover could ever want!

In the city I visited, Winners and Micheal's are side-by-side, in the same complex! Bad for the old bank-account, but good for...everything else!

You can see from the pictures that I got horsey stickers, cards, and regular cute stickers, but at Micheal's I found a display that seriously BLEW MY MIND. I honestly don't know how I got out of there without buying everything on the rack. I wish I could have had a camera, so I could have snuck a shot of the whole thing. 

Okay, I'll stop speaking in riddles. There is a new line of paper/scrapbooking products called "Smash". Though they have their own books to go along with the accessories, I didn't have much interest in the books-they are sort of like ready-made scrapbook/ art books with things already written on the pages...although, maybe the pages could be taken out and used in our trusty A5's...I'll have to check on that.

 Anyway, I was in a bit of a rush, so I grabbed as many lovely things as I could afford, and ran to the counter with them. I swear they were made for folks like us, who are obsessed with decorating our Filos any way we can! The company that makes them is called K&Company.
Here are some pics...

These are some funky pockets that you attach to an already existing piece of paper, I assume with a glue-stick. They are a heavy paper, and have little sayings on them. Below is a picture of the back of the packaging they came with, and images of "suggested uses" for them. I'll show this with all the items, so you can see how they are used...

In the image on the right, the striped paper is the background paper, and the blue pocket is attached on top. The pocket has a front and back.

This company also has some beautiful tab dividers...look out, Martha Stewart!

Sorry the bottom image is a little bit blurry, but all it shows is how the tabs work-you fold them over the page, then label them...aren't they cute! The line in the middle of each shows where you would fold them.

These are little pockets, that again are meant to be attached to a piece of paper to save things-but I think I might hole punch them and put them right in my Filofax...there are six in the package...

There are also adorable little post-its type papers which could also be used as tabs...

These are just for adding quick notes like any other stickies. The reason I included the back of the package is to show the image on the bottom-this "Smash" line has tapes that are VERY similar to our beloved Washi tapes! That polka-dotted strip in the picture is the tape. I restrained myself because I already have a bunch of Washi tape I haven't used yet.  But there is a ton of cute stuff...there are also really cute clips to use as page markers or to hold things on pages, and you KNOW how much I love pretty clips! BUT, only moments before I had bought these... Winners. They were only $3.99 (!!!) for all three sets! It was an awesome day for shopping! I admit I had been neglecting my Filos lately, but now I am inspired, and will post pics soon of how I am using all my cool new stuff!