PAPER REVIEW and COMPARISONS: Apica Premium C. D. A5 Notebook

Apica Premium C. D. A5 Notebook Review and Comparison to Clairefontaine
There is a plastic protective cover that doesn’t seem like it’s meant to stay on the book. You could leave it on there with no trouble, but taking it off (to remove the paper insert, for example) and replacing it later could cause the cover to tear because it’s super-thin. The book looks better without the plastic, too. 
The cover is heavyweight slightly textured paper.  The title is embossed and the word “premium” is stamped in gold foil.  
The pages are squared (rather than rounded) and binding is sewn (rather than stapled).  
Some people prefer rounded corners because they may show less wear and tear over time. I like the look of square corners, especially in thicker books. Sewn binding is more expensive to produce than other types of binding – it looks better and it helps the book lay-flat.
Choose the paper like you would a good pen.
This A5 notebook came to me via Goulet Pens.  They sent it to me in exchange for my honest review. Goulet has this notebook listed at $16.20. Apica makes other notebooks, too – they are not all made with the same “A. Silky 865 Premium” paper.
The Apica A5 has 96 sheets of paper. That’s 192 pages to write on if you write on the fronts and backs of pages.
The first page of the book is a gray title/index page. Definitely a premium touch that most other notebooks don’t have.
Nearly lay-flat binding.

But what you really want to know about is the paper itself, right?

The paper feels so smooth. It’s buttery, luxurious, and definitely, absolutely premium. The color is a very light ivory and the lines are gray. Very easy on the eyes. Ahhhh.
I compare it below to my everyday use paper – Clairefontaine 80gsm.

Apica . . .

Clairefontaine . . .

Apica . . .

Clairefontaine . . .

 Because the paper is so smooth and almost (but not quite) feels glossy, I was concerned that smearing would be a Major Issue. Here’s a comparison . . .

Apica . . . 

Clairefontaine . . .

Apica . . .

 Clairefontaine . . .

The Apica paper in this notebook feels better (more silky smoothness) than Clairefontaine and that made the writing experience better than on Clairefontaine. I love it and will definitely use the notebook I received.

Inks look brighter on the white white paper of Clairefontaine, but they look richer on Apica. 

There was very little ghosting and no bleed through with either paper. 

Dry times seem comparable, too.

Here’s the complete Apica test sheet.  Click here for the huge full-size image . . .

And here is the complete Clairefontaine test sheet.  Click here for the huge full-size image . . . 

Clairefontaine in the A-5 clothbound version comes in at $9.50 for the same number of pages. The cover isn’t as fancy, and the paper may not feel quite as smooth, but if you’re looking for bang for your buck, I’d tell you to get Clairefontaine.

If you’re looking for a very special notebook, though, get the Apica Premium. You really and truly will not be disappointed. The silky paper is like no other paper I’ve used.

Last week, I asked on Instagram which papers people love – and which they use.  If I’ve managed to embed this link correctly, you should be able to clicky click and be taken directly to that post to see the responses. (And if I didn’t embed it correctly, you’ll know that I’m not a perfect person.)


And finally, let me ask you . . . which paper do you most love? which paper do you use most? Do you prefer clothbound or wire binding?

I’ll be back on Wednesday with a Giveaway. Stay tuned . . .



I was in Staples last week and there was a beautiful display of Poppin products. I’d never heard of this brand and decided to pick up a few items.

Today, I’m taking a closer look at the small notebook. Here are some specs for you . . .

  • 192 pages
  • 3.5″ x 5.5″
  • Lined paper
  • Elastic band closure
  • Ribbon marker
  • Pocket in back
  • $6 at Staples
Let’s take a closer look . . . 
As advertised, the cover is soft. It’s vinyl. It’s stinky. Not a good start, I’m afraid. Almost reminds me of my gran’s tablecloth from the 70s. (Yes, I’m old.)
This was a bit of a surprise – a happy surprise for me, but I imagine it wouldn’t be so happy for everyone – the paper isn’t simply lined as indicated on the outside labeling – it’s set up in a bit of a journal entry / checklist style. I’m loving this . . . 
And..surprise!…there’s a thin ribbon marker. (The book doesn’t lay flat – it’s being held open so I could get the picture.)
A not-so-good picture, but it does have a pocket in the back – much like Moleskin.
But the important question – how is the paper? The book is quite thin for 192 pages, but the paper feels silky smooth. Cautiously optimistic is how I was feeling.
(Oh..the paper is bright white – these last few pictures were taken later in the day and I’m not a photographer.)
Not bad!  Very little feathering. 
Lots and lots of show-through / ghosting. I personally have an issue with that, but know that many people don’t mind some show-through.
Final Thoughts
At just six bucks, there are some pretty sweet things about this notebook. Features like the pocket, elastic band, and ribbon marker make the product seem like a quality item. However, all of that is discounted by the super tacky and stinky vinyl cover. 
I have a zillion notebooks and can’t imagine that this one will work its way to the front of the line anytime soon.
Have you tried any of the Poppin items? With Moleskin paper being criticized so much lately, have you found a suitable replacement?

REVIEW: Franklin-Christoph Command Center Folio

Franklin-Christoph Command Center Folio

Happy Monday!
As you saw in my LA Pen Show Shopping Spree post, one of the beauties I came away with was the Franklin-Christoph Command Center Folio pictured above. (As usual, click on the image or the caption to see the full-sized image.)
After having used the Folio, I’m here to says that I love it. Big love. The components are the high-quality you’d expect from F-C. The leather is thick, soft, and luxurious. The stitching is just about perfect in every area of the book. If you happen to have a Penvelope, the leather and fabric will be quite familiar to you. 
Let’s take a closer look . . . 
FC Command Center Folio – Opened View
On the left, there is a good-sized pocket/flap. The area under the flap is fabric. I’m told that this area can hold an iPad Mini. I don’t have one of those, but I know that it can hold a Kindle quite comfortable. I’ve used this area for boarding passes and to hold folded sheets of paper. If I had one wish for the flap, it would be that it had a couple of slots for credit or business cards.
On the right is place for a notebook – I chose a book with binding on the left, but the Command Center can also hold a top-bound notebook.
To the far right are the pen loops. Two loops to hold your favorite pen securely. The leather parts of the loops are showing, the underside features elastic and I’m glad to report that it holds all pen sizes quite nicely. Compare this with the Midori pen loop and, really, there is no comparison – Franklin- Christoph really wins big in this area.
Franklin-Christoph Command Center Elastic Band
The elastic band (see the first image above) is wide and feels very snug and secure.
I’m a tiny bit concerned that it could eventually pull away from the Folio. However, F-C is known to make high-quality products and also known to stand behind them.
Time will tell!
Moving on . . . 
The back features a zippered compartment

The zippered compartment was described as able to hold an iPhone. Yes, it will hold an iPhone, but it feels like that is stretching the limit of that pocket and made me a little concerned about the having a problem with the zipper down the road. In time, I think the leather would give a bit and more easily accommodate something like an iPhone. For now, I’ve used it to hold a few dollar bills, my drivers license and some receipts.

Gussetted Compartment

Iconic Franklin-Christoph Cut Corners
Continuing . . .
I was happily surprised to learn that I could choose a notebook to go with the Folio
The cut corners on the notebook and folio are not just a nifty design element, they are also intended to keep corners from bending and becoming worn.
So . . . the Franklin-Christoph Notebook isn’t perfect. I am 100% sure they’d replace it if I brought it up with them. However, it’s the Folio I was after, the Notebook was a bonus.
Another issue with the notebook
I should have looked at the notebook as closely as I checked over the folio. This one had probably been handled by others (though it was behind their tables at the show) before it found its way to me.
Another reason I didn’t bring this up with Franklin-Christoph . . . 
Franklin-Christoph Notebook
Franklin-Christoph Notebook Paper with Purple Tint
Above is a picture of the Franklin-Christoph Notebook paper with a piece of nice quality white paper under. As you can see, the F-C has a purple tone to it.  I don’t personally like this quality in the paper. 
Franklin-Christoph Folio with Clairefontaine Top-Bound Notebook
In the end, I decided to go with a top-bound notebook from Clairefontaine. Here’s why: the top-bound notebook can be pulled out just a bit and then the cover flipped over – flip the left side of the folio behind and I have a more compact solution. (I hope that made sense – it sounds complicated, but it definitely isn’t.)
I use (and seriously love) the folio everyday. It was just what I needed to organize my on-the-go writing.
Mine is the A5 Medium in Black and Brown. There are other options available at this link.
One final note – I won, I won!  When we were at the LA Pen Show, Franklin-Christoph had a drawing and I managed to win! The drawing was for $100 off any purchase. It’s going to be a few weeks before what I want is back in stock – I can’t wait to show you!
What would you do with $100 from F-C? 


Midori Traveler’s Notebook – Full Size

I’ve been all about my Midori Travelers Notebook (MTN) this week. I finally finally went to Michael’s (the craft store) and found some hardware for it. You can find the bits and bobs in the jewelry making department.

And see the elastic? I removed the boring brown one that came with the MTN and replaced it with a one that has some variation to the colors. You might have to look closely, but this one transitions from purple (on the left side) to blue. I’m thinking this elastic won’t hold up quite as well as the Midori, but I don’t mind changing colors so this won’t be a big deal for me.

I’m not thrilled with the pen loop – it’s too small for any fountain pen of size – maybe I need to stretch it a bit? Right now, I have a Stylist in there. You may wonder why I’d clip the loop to the front of the book instead of the back? I don’t want the clip to scratch any surfaces I may set the Notebook upon.

Here’s a look at what others have been up to this week . . .

FP Quest reviewed an ink I’ve not tried.

Informal Scribble made a beautiful mess.

Pen Paper Pencil reviewed an ink that I didn’t love, but can appreciate.

The Pen Addict reviewed a pen that is going to find it’s way to my wish list!

The Unroyal Warrant talked about Scout Books – did you know about this brand? Not me.

Hot Topics I’ve been following over on Fountain Pen Network . . .

This person was looking for pen suggestions. Not an uncommon theme on FPN, but so many responses came in – probably because the writer was detailed with his questions?

$1400 for a nib?

Scented inks – love or hate? Discuss here.

A hilarious thread.

That’s it from me! What about you? What do you have your eye on?

Have a great weekend!  xoxox


six red pens
I’ve been busy over on the Instagram again.  

Pocket Dept. Notebook and Lamy Safari Fountain Pens

I’m seeing a definite trend.  Ink reviews on the blog. Pen porn over on Instagram. It wasn’t even on purpose – it’s just so easy. And it doesn’t feel like it has to be perfect.

Recent delivery from Goulet Pens

What does the fox say?
I love that this looks like a selfie. haha

If you’ve not tried this, you simply must.
Simply. Must.
Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie & Cocoa Swirl

Tippy top of the Golden Gate Bridge on a Saturday evening
Nib creep is kinda sexy
Always Journey Dreamer Journal from Brush Dance

I also wanted to remind you today that I’m giving away one of the amazing Journals / Notebooks pictured above.

GIVEAWAY: Dreamer Journal from Brush Dance

Always Journey Journal from Brush Dance

First, a disclaimer:  I’m the President of Brush Dance and Brush Dance supplied the Journal for this giveaway.

Second, I love this Journal.  It’s really more like a notebook in that it’s super-portable (5″ x 7″) and can used for so many purposes. At 120gsm, it’s great for fountain pens and even pretty darn good for Sharpies.  Wire-O binding, elastic band to help you keep your stuff together, and a great stay-clean cover that’s silky smooth to the touch.

Features the art of Sugarshot Studio

You want one of these. And, conveniently, I have one to give away.


Just leave a comment under this post by this time next week (Tuesday, November 5) and I’ll choose one person to receive this lovely.

Oh, the places I want to go

I understand that you want your anonymity – but you can’t have that and this great Journal. Please leave your name with your post and tell me how to find you, ok?

an inside look

To summarize….

…leave a comment below to be entered to win this gorgeous Brush Dance Journal
…do it before next Tuesday, November 5
…US shipping addresses only (so sorry)
…Brush Dance is my wonderful employer. They supplied the Journal. You’ll love it.

Oh..and here’s a link to the Brush Dance site and to the Journal in question. Free shipping with purchases totaling $25 – not like that crazy Amazon place that just raised their minimum purchase.


If you’re not on Instagram, you’re really missing something.  
In no particular order, here are some of my more recent Instagram images . . . 
The Waterman Edson Twins (they are not identical)
VW swag for Baby O (because, really, how cute is this?)

An inky project I’m working on

Love #inkinthesink


My TWSBI Collection makes me swoon just a bit.

Strawberry Ice Cream

Doesn’t everyone meal plan with a #wetnoodle?

My beloved Montblanc Boheme collection.

I opened Mr. Pentulant’s textbook, took this picture, and then promptly closed the book.  

And here’s a listing of just some of the people I follow…

Gourmet Pens

Ed Jelley


Pablo Garcia Melnick

Gerald Taylor – aka MyCofeePot

Chrissy Sparks


What I love about Instagram is that most of the people I follow post more than just pens. It’s a real glimpse into the person and what is important in his/her life.

Here’s my Instagram link.  Where is yours?

GIVEAWAY: Last Day to Enter

Today is the last day to enter to win a Brush Dance Journal.

Brush Dance supplied the Journals, I’m the President of Brush Dance, I’m biased, these Journals are AMAZING.

Comment below to be entered to win one of these pretties.  Winner will be chosen randomly from all who enter. We’re giving away one Journal for every ten entries – up to ten winners!

GIVEAWAY: Brush Dance Journals

Last week, Brush Dance (how I make money to fund my pen/ink/paper addictions) announced the release of eleven beautiful new Dreamer Journals. While we’re calling them Journals, they can also be used as a handy everyday notebook.

I am thrilled to have a bunch of these to hand out as prezzies – keep reading to see how you can get in on the action. Full disclosure . . . Brush Dance supplied the Journals for this giveaway, I had a hand in the design, I am biased, but really – they are pretty incredible and I know you’re going to love love love them.

You probably can’t read the teeny tiny text above in that top image, so let me tell you what it says….

Dreamer Journals from Brush Dance combine eye-catching modern designs with incredible functionality. Use as an everyday Journal or as a perfectly-sized notebook that will fit easily in most handbags.


But wait…there’s more!

..136 lined pages
..high-quality 120 gsm interior paper
..wire-o binding 
..stay-clean cover
..elastic band
..5″ x 7″
..Retail $11.95

Seriously, the only way you’re going to be disappointed is if you don’t win one of these pretties. Even then, you can go to the Brush Dance website and get one of your own for just under $12 – even less if you hurry because they are on sale as of this writing.

Here are some detailed pictures of some of the covers.

The interior pages are lined in a color that coordinates with the rest of the book – no basic black here.

Always Journey

Courage Doesn’t Always Roar

Paul Bond Art

Oriah Mountain Dreamer

Renee Locks

I have up to ten of these great books to give away. For every ten people who leave a comment here, I will give away one Journal, but the maximum number of Journals I have is ten. In other words – if 50 people leave messages, I’ll send Journals to five lucky people. If 10,000 people leave comments (yikes!), I will send Journals to ten lucky people. Makes sense, yes? Winners will be chosen randomly, of course.

Because my blog is a tiny hobby and I’m convinced that only Mr. Pentulant reads it – I’ll leave the comments and contest open until Tuesday, August 31. Please only enter once – and, Mr. P., you are not eligible to win.

Leave a comment – be entered to win! Yippy!

Just for Fun: Tomoe River Paper Swabs

Tomoe River Paper isn’t for ink/paper/pen newbies. It can be difficult to deal with – it’s super-thin, wrinkles easily, needs to be stored carefully, and wrinkles easily (worth mentioning twice).  It’s expensive, ghosts like a sonofagun, and wrinkles easily (that’s three).

The above swabs were done as one of my earliest experience with Tomoe River Paper.  I did these (as I do all of my swabs) with a cotton swab saturated with the ink and the “scrubbed” onto the paper.  Even though the paper is super-duper thin (and wrinkles easily) , there was zero bleed-through. None.



The colors just…pop!…from this paper.  This is the way the ink manufacturers must mean for their inks to be experienced.

Here’s a link to the full-size image. It’s big. It’s worth the load time.

Check this out…

Diamine Majestic Blue

And this…

Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu Syogun

So. If you’re in love with paper and inks and pens and such – Tomoe River Paper is a must try. It’s definitely not an everyday paper for me (wrinkles easily, you know), but wow. Wow.

Have you tried Tomoe River Paper?  What other papers do you love?