Baron Fig Grow Daily Journal

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For those of you that know me or listen to me on the RSVP podcast, you know that I have trouble remaining consistent when it comes to keeping a journal in any form. I am not sure why I am this way— I tend to get bored easily or have trouble staying motivated. When I saw the Grow Journal from Baron Fig, I almost passed on reviewing it since I figured that it would be another book I’d never fill or utilize to its full potential. After checking out the product page, I realized that for once, a product may work for me. Let me explain why:

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First off, the Grow Journal provides eight different options when it comes to journaling. I like having this choice. The way I have been journaling is with a blank page— one page per day written in paragraph form. This format works well when I am inspired and motivated, but when I really need to journal, like when I’m depressed or anxious, it’s overwhelming. With the Grow, I can choose what works best for me on any given day. Each page has a column on the edge of the page with the eight different ways to journal: record, reflection, gratitude, wins, lessons, musings, check-in, and freestyle. At the back of the book these categories are fully explained. Record is defined as just writing down what happened during any given day— it’s a way to keep a personal history of what has been going on. Reflection is writing down what happened in a day and then reflecting upon those events. Gratitude, wins, and lessons are pretty self-explanatory. Musings is defined as something more abstract and it is where you just write what is on your mind with no judgement. Check-in is data-based and is for stuff like keeping a log of tracked goals: moods, exercise log, and really any other progress tracking. Freestyle is just that— free. Write whatever you want in any way you want. In the back of the journal there is also a six-week starter guide that gives you a sort of road map to getting into the habit of keeping a journal.

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In addition to the sidebar of journaling options, there is a section on the bottom of the page for metadata. You can track the date/time, the weather, and your mood. I never thought these things were important, but it has really helped me notice patterns in my mood (like when it is raining I tend to have a worse mood than when it is sunny). At the top of the page there is an option for an entry title— I’m not sure I will use this much as I don’t really have the desired to title my journal entries. Also, in addition to the lined page, each line at the beginning has 3 dots and I’m not totally sure what they could be used for. Perhaps a template to draw boxes for checklists? A way to incorporate bullet journaling? The demo photo on the website shows the user making bullet lists, so maybe that? I’m not sure, but either way it’s a nice touch. The look of the Grow Journal has grown on me. I definitely like the touch of yellow on the elastic band that holds the journal closed and the matching yellow on the inside covers. The journal cover and bookmark are charcoal colored which really makes the yellow pop. On the cover, the iconography of a seed transforming into a plant/tree is a nice touch as well.

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There are 170ish usable pages, so for a year of daily use, you would need two of these. Or, if you are like me, one would suffice. I really recommend this journal. I have enjoyed using it for the past week and I am so much more motivated to keep up with it because I have so many choices. It really gives me something to look forward to. The price is $24 and they are available now a the Baron Fig website.

**I was provide this journal free of charge from Baron Fig. Free stuff does not influence my opinion of any product whatsoever. The would be wrong and gross of me**

CW x Iron Curtain Press Notebook

Yellow is my favorite color and the brighter the better. Bright yellow is a color that one doesn’t see often in their daily life. Sure, we see the yellowy-orange of street signs and traffic light poles, but not the bright, cheery yellow that never fails to put me in a good mood. When I clicked on the “new” tab on CW Pencil Enterprise’s website, I was not prepared to fall in love so quickly, but I did. The Iron Curtain Press (ICP) Standard Notebook in a striking yellow with black accents. I had never used ICP (gah— makes me think of Insane Clown Posse, but that’s for another blog entirely— lol) notebooks before mainly due to their hefty (to me) price point. This 160-page notebook is $17 and I just could never justify spending that much on a notebook. Until now. Let me just say that you get what you pay for and then some.

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To start off, the aesthetics of this notebook are super clean and no expense has been spared re: materials. The cover of this notebook is nice and thick with rounded edges so sliding it in and out of a bag is great as it doesn’t snag on anything. Also, it is spiral-bound with a matte gold wire binding. Letter-pressed on the front cover is space for your name, date, and subject. Inside you will find lined paper with a slight (and I mean slight) hint of toothiness. Pencil feels great in this notebook and erases beautifully as well. Each notebook is hand-made and while the CW collab does not offer it, ICP offers either lined, graph, or dot-grid options AND left-handed binding for you lefties out there (Lenore <3 ). I can’t recommend these notebooks enough. In fact, my next pick-up will be their dateless planner. You can pick the CW collaboration here or browse the entire catalog here.

Baron Fig Computerworld Vanguard

It's not often I audibly gasp when I get an email from Baron Fig about their latest offering. Never have I thought that a notebook could embody all of the things I love in this world. Bright colors, whimsical artwork reminiscent of the early nineties, and geek culture. Computerworld offers all of these things and much more. First, let's talk about the concept itself. Computerworld is a Baron Fig collaboration with Codeacademy, a company that offers a unique, online technical learning experience for those that want to learn to code. The Computerworld Vanguards are designed with the coder in mind-- pages are "code ruled" and have numbered rules and bullets which are perfect for writing lines of code or lists. The first thing that came to mind when I flipped through the pages was that these could serve as a good framework for a bullet journal. 

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Each notebook in the collection in the series has a different cover design and the artwork is an imagined representation of what the three main parts of technology-- hardware, software, and data-- would look like. Baron Fig always goes all in on theme and design, so this Vanguard edition is seeping with subtle references to technology. The box for this set is also great with a cover that shows all three themes weaved together. There is a really cool sticker sheet that comes in the box as well as a pamphlet that talks a bit about the current theme.

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The more I stare at the different covers of the books, the more I see. I guess that's what I like so much about this edition aside from it's unique inside page design-- the covers make me happy. One can escape into a fantastical world of technology where unicorns abound, and really, what's better than that? 

***I was provided these notebooks free of charge from Baron Fig, but this review was in no way influenced by the generous offering of a review copy. My opinions are my own***

Write Notepads: A Year in Review

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For the uninitiated, Write Notepads is a small, local business based in South Baltimore, Maryland that makes pocket (and other sized) notebooks.  For every notebook you purchase, one goes to an inner city student that needs one.  From the packaging to the actual notebook, everything is designed with meticulous attention to detail.  While Write sells standard notebooks that are always available for purchase, they also have a subscription option where you receive a new limited edition every three months.  Along with the limited edition notebooks, you receive limited edition pencils that match.  I will take a look at all four editions in this overview and comment a bit on their aesthetics and choose a favorite.  I'd like the send out a huge thank you to Kathy Rogers, a member of the Erasable group for providing the samples I reviewed.

Lenore

Write's first edition was a an ode to Edgar Alan Poe.  Inspired by the darkness of Poe, each notebook has the simple word "Lenore" foil-stamped on its cover.  The inside of the notebook is 70 lb. small graph paper.  I am not sure how I feel about the tiny squares-- I prefer a larger grid so I can make easier checklists.  What I do like is the matching pencil-- there is a raven foil stamped on the barrel.  The ferrule, eraser, and wood of the pencil is also black which stays within the dark theme Lenore has going.  While I like the pencil a lot, the notebook is not my favorite.  I'd rank it 4th due to the small graph paper inside and the minimalist cover.  The pencil get 1st place hands down.

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Kindred Spirit

Write's second edition Kindred Spirit, was inspired by the idea that us notebook and pencil enthusiasts are all kindred spirits and share the same feelings about our niche hobby.  The notebooks have been packaged as "Charcoal Bookettes" as a play on the idea that each notebook is like the beginning of a fire with the charcoal resembling the potential fire that is formed when we put our ideas to paper.  The outside of the notebook is a light orange-yellow with the slightest of marbling and the word "Write" stamped inside of a black flame.  The 70 lb. paper inside is lined like a ledger notebook which is a feature I like since I use a lot of my pocket notebooks for lists.  The pencil that came along with it was a natural wood-grain pencil with a pinkish-red eraser and "Quickstrike - Safety Pencils" stamped in red on the barrel.  I like this notebook a lot-- the bright cover and the ledger-lined paper inside does it for me and puts the book 2nd on my list.  The pencil is a creative design and I have a thing for natural wood pencils, so it gets 2nd place as well.

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The Royal Blue

This Fall edition features the B&O Railroad and was created to honor The Royal Blue, a train that shuttled passengers from Washington D.C. to Jersey City.  The notebooks are a Saxony Blue and gold-- the railroad's traditional colors.  A crest in gold is printed on the cover and "The Royal Blue" is at the bottom in the original font of the train line.  This edition also has 70 lb. paper with the ledger lines I so love.  The pencil that comes with this edition is also blue and has a round barrel.  Stamped in gold is a picture of the Royal Blue train, the words "The Royal Blue" and "Write"; there is a sliver ferrule with a white eraser.  This notebook gets 1st place due to its design and ledger lined inside.  The pencil gets 4th place because I hate round barreled pencils (sorry).

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In the Pines

Write's final edition of their inaugural subscription year was titled "In the Pines" and was inspired by a "cold walk through a dense pine forest."  According to Write, the title pays homage to an "eerie hymnal originally attributed to Lead Belly, and popularized by Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged session."  As a lover of trees, I wanted to love this edition.  The detail of the dark green embossed cover is beautiful with a silver pine tree and the words "In the Pines" on the front.  Inside is 70 lb. dot grid paper which I am not in love with as the dots seem a bit more spread out than I am used to.  The pencil that goes along with this edition is also in dark green with silver stamping on the barrel.  I really like the detail of the number 2 inside a pine tree.  What is disappointing is I feel like the quality control on these pencils is not the same of the others.  I ordered a few and some have chips in the paint and sloppy stamping.  The chipping is not a big deal since it is at the end of the pencil and will be sharpened away anyway, but still disappointing.  I give the notebooks and pencils from this edition 3rd place on my lists.

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The Pencils

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Write Notepads & Co. "In the Pines" Release

As with most limited editions from Write Notepads, a lot of thought and purpose was put into this edition.  From Write's own website:

At the heart of it, a cold walk through a dense pine forest was our ideal way to welcome Winter.  Once we established the color structure, it came time for a name. The ageless, eerie hymnal originally attributed to Lead Belly, and popularized by Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged session was the perfect title for our release. “In the Pines” haunting lyrics set the tone for this epic Americana release.

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Each notebook is glue bound with 70-pound dot grid paper.  Even though I have yet to get my hands on these notebooks, I have used Write Notepads in the past and can assure you they have one of the highest quality paper in the pocket notebook market.  Limited Edition releases are VERY limited.  This edition has 750 printed, so I would jump on it as soon as you can.  Write Notepads has a subscription service, but it is only opened at certain times, so I would check their website periodically to see if the signup link is available.  For a great review of this limited edition, check out Leadfast.

Birthdays, Spirits, Erasable Notebooks, and Moleskines

General Pencil Company Turns 127

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General Pencil Company has been creating pencils since 1889 and is located in my home state of New Jersey.  Not only is it a great feat to have an American-run business last for 127 years, but the fact that a wooden pencil company has lasted that long is incredible.  I enjoy General's products and have reviewed them in the past.  While General pencils are not Tombow MONOs, they are great for what they cost.  I'd recommend trying the Pacific, Cedar Pointe, and the Supreme.

shin sharpens your spirit

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Um, OK.  I am always a fan of sometimes overly priced pretentious bullshit, but this sharpener makes some intense claims.  From the description:

The Shin sharpener is a whetstone-style pencil sharpener that turns the ordinary task of sharpening your pencil into a meditative practice. The repetitive task of sharpening the edge of your pencil is supposed to support concentration, inspiration and inner peace...

While I have to admit that there is something zen-like about getting a point to perfection, my spirit has never been sharpened by the act.  At $165, I'd much rather put it towards and el Casco or a handful of Polluxes.  The sharpener itself is a great conversation piece, but to me it looks like they repurposed a stick incense holder and shoe-horned a sharpener into it.  I shouldn't be surprised that this product is listed on a site that sells a $320 brass fertilizing syringe for gardening.

Everlast Notebook

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The Everlast Notebook is the antithesis to everything I look for in a notebook-- you cannot use pencil and it is made to be a digital product wrapped in a loose shell of an analog format.  The concept of having one notebook may be appealing to millennials (the Kickstarter for this thing is almost at a million dollars!), but I like my notebooks to be permanent.  There is something to be said for a stack of well-used notebooks that I can flip through and see what pen or pencil I have used.  Writing in a traditional notebook is such a tactile experience, I'd be horrified to erase my scribblings after I have essentially taken a picture of what I spent time on writing.  I think one positive of this product is how it can automatically catalog what you have written by ticking off a symbol on the bottom of each page.  While I am first an analog junkie, being organized comes in a close second.  Because one of my New Year's resolutions is to unplug, I'll have to pass on this one, but it's a cool concept anyway.

Moleskine Has a Banner Year

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Even though this new story is written on Yahoo Sports! (I have NO IDEA why; perhaps notebook writing could be a sport), it is nice to see some coverage about analog writing in mainstream news sites.  Even though I feel like the analog movement is still a niche group, I welcome any boost to my most loved hobby and passion.  I wish other, more quality, notebooks got some coverage (Write Notepads, Field Notes, Baron Fig) since I have noticed the overall quality of Moleskine notebooks to be declining since I first started using them years ago.  I am sure that this is a product of a need to cut costs and increase profits, but I think for the market they want to attract they miss the mark.  For the same price I could purchase something that is locally produced with better quality.  For a niche hobby like stationery and notebook using, Moleskine's approach falls short.  I do realize that an uninitiated individual has no clue as to what else is out there, but I suppose that is why the universe that surrounds our hobby is so small.