Tag: leather journals

My First Two Travelers’ Notebooks

My First Two Travelers’ Notebooks

I first came across Travelers’ Notebooks (TNs) last year. I was skeptical. They just seemed too expensive for me, and the shape was odd. I was completely sold out on A5-sized journals and didn’t see myself having much use for such an odd-shaped journal of sorts. I hemmed and I hawed and I waffled around trying one until early this month. I decided to try a Midori Traveler’s Notebook and a hand-sewn TN made by Sunday Leather Craft.

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Sunday Leather TN on top, Midori TN at the bottom.

I was completely unprepared for how much I was going to enjoy these journals. These are both TNs, they look similar, but they feel different.

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The elastic of an MTN is simpler and uses a thinner rubber band. The Sunday Leather Craft TN has a thicker band and a piece of leather which helps keep the cover closed, I guess, but I opted to remove it to make it look simpler.

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The leather that Sunday Leather Craft uses is relatively firm, but is a lot softer and more pliable compared with Midori’s TN. The result is that it feels more floppy. Not in a bad way, though. I like that it has this very raw feel to it. It can accommodate more inserts too, because it’s softer. It also lays down flatter than a Midori TN.

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Sunday Leather Craft’s TN is already set up for multiple inserts. I watched a few videos on YouTube on how to “hack” a Midori TN to hold more than three inserts but this setup eliminates the need to poke holes into the leather. If you’re comfortable with chunky setups and multiple inserts, this will definitely make it easier for you to do that.

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The Midori Travelers’ Notebook, on the other hand, feels more polished. The leather is stiffer, although it looks like it will get a tiny bit more pliable with time. The leather is gorgeous, but I really don’t mind it getting scuffed while I use it (it already has a few dings on it after a few weeks of use) because I want it to show signs that it’s been used and loved and taken everywhere.

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The elastic that closes the Midori TN is knotted at the back of the leather cover. The leather is stiff enough that it doesn’t cause any deformation because of the tension of the elastic. Sunday Leather Craft’s TN is knotted from the spine, which is a smart design given the fact that the leather is softer than Midori’s. It minimizes the bunching up of the leather as long as there are notebooks inserted in it.

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Midori TN (bottom) is a tight fit. I have the same setup of notebooks in both TNs (two blank notebooks and a sketchbook), but Sunday Leather Craft’s TN is roomier.

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It’s very tempting to put more  notebooks in the roomier Sunday Leather Craft TN. Maybe I will stuff more in there and see how the leather will hold up with the chunk. Of course, lugging that around will be challenging (and might cause lower back pain, haha). Plus, I usually include a lot of photos, washi tapes and other stuff in my journals, so it will need some room to grow.

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The paper I used on these two TNs are Midori’s inserts. They’re good, but I’m afraid I really cannot get used to them. I am going to replace these with Tomoe River inserts as soon as possible. Aside from the quality of paper, Tomoe River inserts are also thinner. You can put more inserts without bulking up the notebook too much. Of course, Tomoe River inserts are more expensive and not always available locally. If you aren’t very picky with the paper, the default Midori inserts are good enough, and they have different kinds of refills too if you want to use your TN as a planner as well as a journal/sketchbook.

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Midori sketchbook insert

I do like the sketchbook inserts, though, even if they do add to the bulk of the TN. As for the shape of the inserts, I’m surprised that I adjusted to it pretty quickly. I initially felt that it would be too narrow for the size of my handwriting. Turns out it’s not that bad. It doesn’t feel cramped at all. It even fits in my bag better than my A5 journals do. Even if it’s chunky, it’s actually lighter and easier to carry around.

There’s a huge price difference between these two, though. The locally-made TN from Sunday Leather Craft costs about 1/3 of the price of the Midori. It doesn’t come with inserts, though. You can even ask them to customize it with pockets or choose the color and texture of your leather and the color of the stitching. I think it’s great value for money.

Overall, I love these TNs. I like the size, I like the flexibility of the inserts, and I love the leather cover. I can store the inserts as I fill them up and let the leather cover age beautifully. I like it so much that I’ve decided to use it as my main journal for next year.

I’ll probably write a separate review of the Sunday Leather Craft TN after the new year. 🙂

Journal Tips and Writing Prompts for May

Everyday, I try to set aside a time to write in my journal. I discovered that if you are actively looking for time, you find a lot of it spread out even in busy days. I wrote in another blog entry that I often write at length about my meditations on the Bible for that day. I absolutely love it when I have long stretches of time to do this, and I always feel very refreshed afterwards.

Sometimes, I like to put pictures in my journals and write about the memories that go with the photos.

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I have six nephews and nieces, and I oftentimes have them in mind while I write. I want to think that I’ll pass on these journals to them when I’m gone and they will read about my thoughts on the world during my youth, and they’ll see photos of themselves and see how much they’re loved and cherished. I know everything is digital these days but there’s still something so great about seeing printed photos. Being able to hold them in your hand and see where time wore out some places, that’s something.

I prefer to use a glue stick to put photos in my journals, but you can also use washi tape. I wouldn’t recommend liquid glue because it deforms the paper too much. Adding printed photos to your journal is a visual reminder that, in my opinion, shouldn’t take away from how you recall the details through your words.

For those who need a few more writing prompts for their journal entries, how about these (and you can add photos too, if you want):

  1. Write an open letter for your future self.
  2. Write a happy memory you have of your mom.
  3. What did you want to be when you grew up?
  4. Describe the street where you grew up.
  5. Write an open letter to God.

Happy writing!

Elias Soft-Cover Journals are Here!

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Last week, the soft-covered journals of Elias Notebooks became available and I got a first look at it during the March pen meet of FPN-P. However, they only had the blank journals available, and I wanted to wait for the lined and dot grid journals. I got it in the mail yesterday! I’m so happy.

This design is called gold mosaic, and it’s really pretty in person. Basically, it’s the same awesome Elias paper but with a soft leather cover instead of the hard cover. Personally, I like both the hard and soft covers. The hard covers are a bit more formal-looking. The soft-covered ones are lighter, easier to carry. I love them both.

The Joy of Tabula Rasa

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There’s something truly wonderful about sitting in a quiet room at the end of the day with your cup of coffee and the cat quietly staring at you from the other end of the table. Then you pick out the pens that you want to use for the day, open your journal and breathe out a sigh of pure joy at the sight of a blank page. 🙂

For me, it’s a reminder that each day is a new beginning, and a chance to make of it what we want. 🙂

Matching Journals

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I got this in the mail today, a large and small Elias journal in tan colored suede. These journals are just beautiful, and the paper is perfect for fountain pens. The photo couldn’t capture the rich dark brown suede, though. In person, the color is more like chocolate truffles. Yum.

Learn more about Elias Journals here. BTW, I’m just a happy customer, not in any way affiliated to them. I buy my own journals, pens and inks, and will always make a full disclosure if I’m reviewing or writing about something that I did not buy for myself. 🙂