The Pocket Plus Experiment

Featuring the Moterm Pocket Luxe 2.0 in Full Grain Veg Tanned Leather

Moterm Pocket Luxe 2.0 in Chestnut

With the new Moterm veg tanned leather being released in more and more sizes, my enthusiasm for it got the better of me and in my excitement to ‘try all the colors’, I ordered a Pocket Luxe in Chestnut. 

To be honest, my motive was that I wanted to see the Chestnut leather in person so that I’d be ready for the next Personal Luxe restock, not because I in any way use, know how to use, or have any need to use a pocket size planner. 

Not that I’ve ever let the fact that I don’t use a particular size planner stop me from buying one. Or, you know, four.

If you’ve been following my posts about the delicious full grain veg tanned leather that Moterm has come out with, you’ll know that I missed out on Chestnut in both the Personal Luxe 2.0 and the Original Weeks Cover release, so I was eagerly anticipating the arrival of this Pocket Luxe.

Promo picture from the Moterm Store on Ali Express
All of the veg tanned colors available in the Pocket Luxe 2.0. Promo pic from the Moterm Store on Ali Express
Like every other Moterm purchase, the presentation of the Pocket Luxe 2.0 is top notch

As always, the planner and inserts you are about to see were purchased using my own funds and this post is an honest review consisting of nothing more than my own personal opinion and experience.

My initial response when this Moterm came was another squeal of glee. That happens a lot when opening Moterm boxes. I had seen a few posts on social media of the Chestnut color, but it was hard to get an idea of the undertone of the shade because everyone’s lighting is different, and from some of the photos I was afraid it was going to be too burgundy for me, so I passed on it when other sizes that I do use were released.

Spoiler alert: it isn’t.

Chestnut is a beautiful milk chocolate color with a lot of depth to it. I like it so much that I went back and ordered a B6 + cover in Chestnut while it was still available, and will definitely put it on my wish list for the next Personal Luxe and Weeks Cover restocks. While it is a bit of a chameleon depending on the lighting, to my eye it is definitely a brown and not a burgundy.

Chestnut in natural light
And in the sunlight

For a small planner, the Moterm Pocket Luxe has a lot going for it: 

  • On the inside cover it has a gusted zipper pocket with a leather tab to cover the zipper pull so it won’t dent your inserts, 3 vertical card slots, a larger bottom pocket (that perfectly fits a small pad of sticky notes), and a handy secretarial pocket
  • It has the large back wallet pocket
  • On the inside back cover, you have 3 more vertical card slots, another larger bottom pocket, another secretarial pocket, a slip pocket and a partially elasticized outward facing pen loop (even on a small planner, my Dr Grip multi pen fit in the loop with no issues, though I am using a more pocket appropriate sized Pilot G2 Mini for everyday)
  • It has a double snap closure for when you load this thing and its 30mm rings up
  • You also get a flyleaf with a slanted slip pocket and another partially elasticized pen loop
Here is the inside layout, but see what I mean about how different this color looks in varying light?!

The Moterm Pocket Luxe is a larger version of your average, every day pocket binder. The Pocket Luxe measures 10.6” x 5.6” laying open and features huge (IMO for a pocket planner) 30mm rings. This little planner is a chonker! It is meant to be used with Pocket Plus inserts, which are sort of newish in the evolution of planner insert sizes. Or maybe they aren’t – as I’ve said, pocket size hasn’t really been a part of my planner life until now, so someone please correct me if I’m wrong and Pocket Plus has been around forever and I’m just clueless.

Pocket Luxe 2.0 comes with 30mm rings. Here it is with pocket plus inserts

Pocket Plus inserts are 3.5” x 5” (vs. regular Pocket size inserts which measure 3.19”x4.72”) so you get a larger page and therefore more writing space. I liked this phat little guy so much that I decided to order up some inserts to give it a real test drive, not just drool over the color of the leather. I was curious to try the size because it is pretty close to Field Notes size (3.5” x 5.5”), and I have used and loved FN notebooks for many years. 

The inserts I decide on are from eaststreetpaperco out of Boston, MA on Etsy. I chose this seller because she offers printed inserts as well as printable (I have zero DIY skills and those of you who know me, know I’m not even reliably capable of punching pages correctly let alone print and cut them) and also I like to support local businesses. I live in the middle of nowhere in the New Hampshire, so Boston is my nearest metro area. I’m counting it as local.

Because I don’t technically use this size planner, I kept it simple and sampled only the basics; dated monthlies, dated daily pages and I threw in an attractive dashboard and motivational planner card for fun. 

The quality these inserts is really nice, the paper feels pleasant to the touch and perfectly substantial without being too thick at 32lb weight. It is smooth and bright white. What attracted me to her inserts (other than the fact that I didn’t have to fiddle with printing them myself and deal with the ultimate failure that would ensue) were the clean lines and simplicity. I like fonts that are easy to see/read and I find her whole aesthetic to be very minimal and modern.

East Street Paper Co Month on 2 pages. You can choose Sunday or Monday start
East Street Paper Co Day on One Page. Clean, simple and functional…I l love them
Pretty dashboard from East Street Paper Co! And the planner card is adorbs. She offers several designs, so go check her out!
Here are the inserts in use. The back of each daily page is a note page. Diclsiamer: I am a purely functional planner and don’t decorate at all. Ever.

While I’m not entirely sure this planner size will be one that I use in the long run, I am psyched to have it as a beautiful addition to my Moterm Veg Tanned collection. Hopefully this helps anyone on the fence about Chestnut like I was at first. If you like brown, give it a try…you won’t be disappointed!

For more photos and Moterm goodness, be sure to go join the Moterm Official Fan Group on Facebook. And don’t forget to follow @Motermofficial on IG to stay on top of news from the company and upcoming releases of the veg tanned leather.

Bring Your Own Sunshine

What is the quote? “Wherever you go, no matter the weather, always bring your own sunshine”.

Not always an easy task, especially here in the Northeast where there are not a mere 4 but 12 seasons, most of which are not particularly sunny (we’ve got winter, fool’s spring, second winter, spring of deception, third winter, “the pollening”, actual spring – which lasts approximately 15 minutes, summer, hell’s front porch, false fall, second fall, actual fall and then right back to winter).

Today we are reveling in the oh so glorious New England summer. And thus my review of the Filofax Finsbury in the new color for 2022. They called it Mustard, but to me it looks like Sunshine.

The color is literally like warm summer sunshine

The Finsbury is a classically styled Filofax organizer beautifully crafted out of a unique, soft “rambler leather”, and features a rich two-tone finish as well as matching stitching. 

The Finsbury binder has been around since the early 2000s, with Filofax releasing new colors from year to year. For 2022 they came out with this lovely Mustard, and I just had to have it. Yes, me…she who loves neutrals…had to have an actual color. Who am I and what have I done with myself?

Nothing like brining your own sunshine to work with you every day!

Although the Finsbury is not completely leather (there are some textiles used in the manufacture and in fact the interior is a durable canvas material), it is a great entry level leather Filofax with a reasonable price and a lot of great features to keep you organized:

  • The rings are 23mm
  • The interior front has 6 card slots on top of a vertical slip pocket
  • The interior back has a zipped pocket and one leather pen loop
  • The binder itself measures 7.5” high x 5.7” wide and it fits Personal size inserts (3.75” x 6.75”)
Finsbury Interior
Iconic af

Truth be told, I am a huge Finsbury fan from way back. I love the Finsbury for its no-nonsense, classic design and for its structure. I do a lot of note taking on the go and it is so nice to be able to pull out my Filofax and write on my lap or in the car without issue. It also feels sleek and streamlined in the hand.

I like carrying it as a clutch when running errands or at appointments so I have the chance to whip it out instead of my phone and say, “Hang on, let me check my…Filofax“.

I know. I’m a rebel.

Finsbury Mustard seen here with the Lamy Safari Fountain Pen in Mango

I have been Filofaxing since, are you sitting down, 1985. Yes, I’m old. That was the year I fell in love with a gorgeous Ostrich Filofax in Personal size and I wish every day that I still had that thing. Unfortunately I was 20 years old, married to a musician, moved around a lot (partied a lot), and I have no idea what became of it. I do know it lasted longer than my marriage. But that’s a story for another day.

That Ostrich Filofax was the first of *cough* many, and I have not been without a day planner since purchasing it.

Over the years I have owned a few the many Finsbury colors released (all sold by now, much to my regret). Turquoise, which debuted in 2010-2011 I think, Raspberry circa I have no idea but it has been around a while and is still available to this day, and of course I had a Yellow Compact Finsbury back in 2012 which was the subject of this now infamous drunken review.

I set up a YouTube channel just to post that relic so you guys could get a good laugh. You’re welcome.

The release of the new Mustard Finsbury threw me into a fit of nostalgia and not only did I order that one from Filofax USA, but also the 2022 version of Turquoise now called Aqua, and the amazing Coral.

I have no idea when the Coral was released or how it managed to slip under my radar for so long because it just screams “umbrella drink on a beach in the Caribbean” and I am a huge fan of umbrella drinks, beaches, and all things Caribbean.

The true color of Coral is difficult to capture, but it is a true coral; not too pink and not too orange
I am obsessed with this color too. I suspect I will be moving in and out of all 3 colors every couple of days
The Finsbury’s two tone finish is most pronounced on the Coral

Lest we forget the Aqua

Another color that is hard to capture and that varies depending on the lighting
So cheery right?!

If you are in a summery mood or just appreciate a great binder, a Filofax Finsbury might be for you. Of course they also come in more low key colors such as Black, a mellow but lovely Vista Blue, the aforementioned Raspberry, and a very distinguished Slate Grey (that I may or may not pick up as my winter Finsbury).

In the meantime, nobody tell all my tan planners how much I am loving these colors!

‘Weeks’ In the Knees

A review of the Moterm Original Weeks Cover in Full Grain Veg Tanned Leather

Original Weeks Covers in Full Grain Veg Tanned Leather (Espresso & Apricot)

Full disclosure, I’m not using a Hobonichi Weeks this year. Oh I bought one…in fact I bought two; a regular Weeks and a Mega so that I could try both. “Trying them all” is apparently a thing I do.

I discovered that I just can’t make a book this size work for me as my main planner or even as an on the go type planner, so I put them away after abandoning the effort in roughly March. Since the Weeks was a fail for me, technically I did not need to order one of the new Full Grain Veg Tanned Leather Moterm Original Weeks Covers when they were announced. But did that stop me? Absolutely not.

In the full grain veg tanned leather timeline, the Original Weeks Cover was actually released before the Personal Luxe. It might have even been the first release in the new leather. Initially, I wasn’t going to order one because I knew I would’t use it and I was trying to be sane and wait for a size I would use. But sadly for my checkbook, patience is not a virtue I possess and curiosity about the new leather got the better of me so I ordered the only color left at the time, Espresso.

Yay, a brown! Comfort zone intact.

As always, the covers you are about to see were purchased using my own funds and this post is an honest review consisting of nothing more than my own personal opinion and experience.

When it arrived and I saw, felt, and took a whiff of the new leather for the first time, I knew I’d better figure out how to make a Weeks work for me because I was going to need this cover in my daily kit.

If you have read my recent review of the Personal Luxe 2.0 ring planner, then you already know my feelings about this new full grain addition to the Moterm family. If you haven’t seen it yet I’ll wait while you go read it and learn about why this leather is so special.

(……..hums a tune while waiting) 

Once again, in my excitement I failed to take unboxing photos, but I don’t really need to because Moterm tells you exactly what to expect. The lovely branded box, the dust bag, and the cover itself.

Espresso is a rich, dark chocolatey brown color that is absolutely stunning.  Since this was released prior to the Personal Luxe, this Espresso Weeks Cover was my fist exposure to the new leather. My enthusiasm for this cover is why I jumped into the Personal Luxe planners with both feet. By the time that release rolled around I knew the leather was kickass!

Promo picture of Espresso from the Ali Express Moterm Shop
The Espresso Weeks Cover that I received

Look at it in sunlight and prepare to have your socks knocked off.

Are your socks knocked off? Thought so

Because the first release of these covers sold out in the blink of an eye, Moterm quickly offered a pre-order so that anyone who missed out on the initial offering could order one. What did I tell you about Moterm listening to its customers and being responsive? They are really fantastic about giving their customers what they want. Even though I know this to be the case, it impresses me each time I see it happen.

So anyway of course I went ahead and pre-ordered another one, this time in Apricot. If I’m going to have two Weeks that I’m not going to use, why not have two covers to not use with them. Planner addict logic.

Although they had originally said to allow approximately 45 days for production after the pre-order period closed, I was surprised to see a shipping notification after only 30 days. It arrived on day 33. Kind of amazing if you ask me. 

Apricot is a light honey color, very much like un-dyed leather (it is dyed, but it is the pretty much the same color as un-dyed leather). I knew I was going to love it since when my pre-order arrived I already had the Personal Luxe in this color. I was definitely not disappointed when I opened the box.

Promo picture of Apricot from the Ali Express Moterm Shop. Those are not my hands lol!
The Apricot Weeks Cover that I received. I GOT TEXTURE!!
Look. At. The. Texture ❤

Now that we’re done drooling over the leather, lets get into the plethora of features:

  • 5 card slots and an additional smaller pocket at the bottom of the front interior
  • an outward facing slip pocket on the front interior
  • 2 inward facing slip pockets on the front interior
  • 2 bookmark strings with leather tabs
  • that awesome big back wallet pocket
  • 2 slip pockets and a small secretarial pocket on the back interior
  • High, outward-facing partially elasticized pen loop to accommodate a wide variety of pen sizes (my Lamy Safari fountain pen and Dr. Grip multi pen both fit without issue)
  • Double snap closure in case your book gets phat
Promo Picture from the Ali Express Moterm Shop showing the interior features

I want to talk a moment about that high, outward facing pen loop. In previous versions of the Original Weeks cover, the pen loop (while still placed high up on the cover, which is awesome) was more inward facing. It held a pen just fine, but kind of felt…wrong. In my opinion it got in the way of the book too much and was awkward. Many people had the same impression and sent their input to Moterm about it and they changed the design based on customer feedback. I cannot stress enough how incredible this company is.

Although made for the Hobonichi Weeks planner or Weeks Mega, this cover measuring in at 4.3″ tall by 8.8″ wide can accommodate any other notebook or planner of comparable size (any book approximately 3.75”x 7.4”). I’m told you can use it for your Skinny Mini Happy Planner, and there are several weeks-sized notebooks available on Amazon or Etsy as well. 

As I mentioned, both the regular Weeks and the Weeks Mega fit perfectly – with the plastic Hobonichi Cover on Cover even. Of course you don’t need the plastic cover since you have this gorgeous leather one, but I like the extra pockets. You can never have too many pockets am I right?

Here is a top view showing both Weeks types. Mega on the left in the Apricot, regular on the right in the Espresso
Another view. Mega on the left in the Apricot, regular on the right in the Espresso
A gratuitous glamour shot

Just yesterday Moterm did a re-stock of the Original Weeks Cover in Full Grain Veg Tanned leather on Ali Express, and there are still a few colors left as of this writing, so go claim yours while they last. At $57.99 for this quality leather they are a steal.

All of the 7 colors offered, promotional photo from the Ali Express Moterm Shop

I may or may not have picked up Honey and Caramel in this re-stock, so I seriously need to find a use for a Weeks in 2023!

Help a girl out…what are some other ways I can use a Weeks (not planning, I’ve got that handled in my Personal Luxe)? Drop some ideas in the comments.

Moterm Personal Luxe 2.0 in Full Grain Veg Tanned Leather

Moterm is not a new brand, but it is relatively new to my planner radar. Founded in 2016, Moterm is a self-produced brand company offering leather planners and accessories. The founders of the company ran a leather goods factory for over a decade before starting the Moterm brand, and so are no strangers to leather and leather good production. Their Mission Statement is to “relentlessly build amazing products with honest prices and superior quality to let everyone enjoy a better life”.

How can you not get behind a brand like that?

Moterm have offered an array of ring planners, notebook covers and pen cases in either their “Lichi” pebbled leather or a “Croco” print leather and, as their Mission Statement says, they do so at very reasonable prices. There is a lot of bang for your buck with this brand, and who doesn’t love a great value? You can check out their website at and at their shop on Ali Express.

Very recently, Moterm have started to release some of their planner sizes in a new, higher end, full grain Vegetable Tanned Leather and it looked so nice in their adverts that I had to place an order to check this new leather out in person. To date they have released their Weeks Cover, Pocket Luxe 2.0 and this Personal Luxe 2.0 in the new veg tanned leather. Look for reviews on the other styles soon. Because I bought them too. You knew I would.

These planners were all purchased using my own funds and this post is an honest review containing nothing more than my own opinion and experience.

I love neutrals, so I went for the ‘tan rainbow’ and chose the colors Apricot, Honey and Caramel out of the seven colors released. Full disclosure, I also wanted to get a fourth color, Chestnut, but I dilly dallied enough after placing my initial order that Chestnut had sold out by the time I got around to deciding to go back for it. Lesson learned for next time.  

These planners (and all Moterms) come nicely packaged in a sturdy, branded box. Each planner came in its own dust bag as well and the entire unboxing experience was very pleasing. Here is what you get:

From the Moterm Shop on Ali Express because I was so excited that I forgot to take unboxing photos

My initial reaction when taking them out of the box was to literally squeal with delight because these things are SUPER NICE. The leather is a big step up from their previous offerings IMO and all of three colors that I chose are really rich and beautiful.

The three colors I chose (L to R): Apricot, Honey, Caramel
Left to Right: Apricot, Honey, Caramel

There is no option at this time to make special requests when ordering as far as texture goes, and Moterm makes a point in their description of this leather to make us aware before buying that textures and dye lots will vary quite a bit, even among planners of the same color. This is because it is high quality leather and because of the tanning process used.

“Full-grain” leather simply means that the hair is removed and then the hide goes immediately into the tanning process. All of the oil-absorbing properties and original characteristics of the leather remain intact. Full-grain leather is the top of the food chain (or, hide chain, as it were) and is stronger and more durable than other grades of leather

“Vegetable tanning” is one of the oldest methods of tanning. It has literally been around for centuries. What makes vegetable tanning so unique is that it can be used to make thicker leather and results in more body and character. Vegetable tanned leather also tends to age better than other leather processing methods, and combined with the use of full grain leather, will develop a rich patina over time. And it also retains that awesome leather smell.

Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk on leather processing…now back to the review 😉

The photos below of the individual colors with the color names are promotional pics from the Moterm Shop on Ali Express. Take a scroll down the product page to see more examples of each of the seven colors available.

Apricot is the lightest shade and although Apricot calls to mind an orangey color, this planner is not orangey in the least. I would call it more of a pale honey tone, very similar to undyed leather, or maybe undyed leather with a slight patina. This veg tanned leather is NOT un-dyed…it is just a light color and resembles un-dyed leather. I was hoping it would and I was not dissapointed.

Promo picture from the Moterm Shop on Ali Express

Honey is more of an amber shade and has a subtle orange undertone. It is the next step up the rainbow of tans and perhaps my favorite shade of the three. Today. Ask me again tomorrow because they are all stunning. The Honey I received is a blend of smooth with a bit of texture thrown in to make it interesting. The strap closure, however, is pebbly and delicious! I almost peed my pants when I opened the dust bag and I’m not even kidding.

Promo picture from the Moterm Shop on Ali Express
Check out the swoon-worthy pebbles on the strap of my Honey!

They were right, the colors do vary a lot and there are several different textures of leather used in the making of each planner. I personally love this, as it makes everyone’s planner a work of art and unique.

The darkest of the three colors that I ordered is Caramel. Of the planners that I received, the Caramel one is the thickest, yummiest smelling leather and it has a bit of a pull-up effect to it as well. Scratches easily rub out with a little thumb massage and it is my favorite of the three as far as how it feels. I got a smooth one, but the interior is deliciously textured and I actually have a hard time putting it down. This is the one I take to bed and leave on my bedside table so I can smell the leather as I drift off to sleep. To dream about planners. Duh.

Promo picture from the Moterm Shop on Ali Express
Isn’t the interior of my Caramel absolutely scrumptious?

As mentioned this is the Personal Luxe size, which is a slightly wider variation on any other brand’s Personal size planner. Because they are the Luxe size, they will not only fit normal personal sized inserts (3.75” x 6.75”) but they will also accommodate my beloved Franklin Covey Compact inserts (4.25” x 6.75”). Since I flop around between these two sizes on an almost daily basis, that was an appealing feature and probably why I went nuts and bought three of them. 

The Personal Luxe 2.0 with 30mm rings and Personal size inserts on the left/front, and with 25mm rings and FCC inserts on the right/back. A post about my seemingly endless indecision between these two insert sizes will be coming soon

All seven colors of the Veg Tanned Personal Luxe 2.0 planners have silver hardware, and all come with 30mm silver rings installed.

One of the things I have loved from the get-go about all Moterm ring planners is the ease of removing or changing out the rings. You can purchase personal rings in either 30mm or 25mm size, and in silver, gold or rose gold very easily and inexpensively (I get mine from Amazon) and all you need to change them out is a flat head screwdriver. I like gold hardware, so I put gold rings in all three of mine. 

The ability to quickly, easily and inexpensively change out the rings makes these planners even more versatile and is a huge win as far as I’m concerned because not only am I a planner spaz, I am also a klutz. So if I can change the rings on these planners without issue, you can too. Easy peasy bacon cheesy.

Moterm makes planners with the intent for them to be USED. “To let everyone enjoy a better life”, as they said. They are not only beautiful (especially this new full grain veg tanned leather), but extremely functional. The three F’s (features, functionality, flexibility) of the Personal Luxe 2.0 and all Moterm products really, are quite frankly amazing for the price.

I am beyond thrilled to see the addition of this new leather to their lineup, as well as to hear that they plan (Lol! Get it?!) to release the entirety of their line in veg tanned leather. This will of course take time, but I can wait. This leather is worth waiting for.

As I said, this new leather is fantastic – looks great, feels great, smells like a saddle – but also worth noting are quality features such as the straight, even stitching. That the card pockets are stitched and not just cut. The addition of a leather cover for the zipper pull. The fact that they give you two closure snaps so you can choose chonky or sleek for your planner’s waistline. I absolutely adore that.

The list of amazing features on this planner is a long one:

  • the big back wallet pocket (which will fit standard sized letter paper folded in half)
  • a gusseted zippered pocket (with the aforementioned leather cover for the zipper pull so it won’t dent anything)
  • secretarial pockets front and back
  • plenty of card pockets – 10 total (4 vertical card slots and 1 horizontal, slightly deeper card slot on both front and back)
  • an outward facing slip pocket in the front
  • two slip pockets in addition to the secretarial pocket in the back
  • a partially elasticized pen loop that easily fits even the fattest of pens (my go-to pens are Lamy Safari fountain pens and a Dr. Grip multi-pen, and both slide in like buttah)
  • an included flyleaf that has a slip pocket as well as an additional partially elasticized pen loop

I mean come ON! All of that…in wicked nice leather…for under $100.

Yeah you heard me right, the Personal Luxe 2.0 in Full Grain Veg Tanned leather goes for $90.99 and they will even ship it to you for free.

Normally I would say run, don’t walk to Ali Express to get yours, but they are all sold out at the moment. I know you’re bummed. But fret not, because you can go join the Moterm Official Fan Facebook group, look at pictures, salivate and await a re-stock with the rest of us. And they will re-stock. Because Moterm listens to its customers and is extremely responsive.

Clearly the new veg tanned leather is going to be a game changer in the plannerverse, and I can’t say enough good things about the quality of it. Suffice to say I am insanely impressed with these planners. I give the Moterm Full Grain Veg Tanned Personal Luxe 2.0 an enthusiastic thumbs up and can’t wait to report back in a few months on how they break in and patina with daily use.

I’m Back and I Really Mean It This Time

What with society collapsing all around us and all, I thought this would be a perfect time to start blogging again! A lot has happened since my last attempt to resurrect this blog, and I won’t bore you with all of that, but I’m sure you will find some comfort in knowing that I’m still waffling around the planner world trying to decide on which size is right for me. With Chaos comes indecision. Go figure.

What else, what else? Well, I have not one but two retired racing Greyhounds now and a few lizards as well. Ok, more than a few. And yes I have a section for them in my planner. I bought my first ever big girl house just in time for the economy to collapse and can now no longer call myself a lifetime renter so yay me. And I’m going through menopause so there’s that too. Good times.

Anyway, I’ve got some great content lined up for you (if you like planners that is, otherwise you’re kinda screwed and probably shouldn’t be here) and I’m excited to get this show back on the road.

So stay tuned…for realsies this time!


What’s Three Years Among Friends

Yeah so I’ve totally neglected this blog for like three years. I know, I suck and I’m sorry. 

A lot of shite has gone down since we last spoke. I’ll spare you the details, but it involved a wedding, a divorce, a job change, a couple surgeries and a LOT of planner confusion and waffling. Trust me when I tell you that I could be writing this from my beach house in the Caribbean if I had the money I’ve spent wandering around the plannerverse for the past few years.

But my poverty is your gain, and now I’m back to share what I’ve learned.

I like to call it taking one for the team. You’re welcome.

2015 Conundrum Week Two: Traveler’s Notebook

I’m a little late getting this post up considering it’s the last week of the month, but choosing which planner I want to use this year has been more of a challenge than I initially expected.

Long story short, I’m still carrying three different planners around with me every day (The Mulberry from week 1 was ruled out).

So anyway, the second contender in my 2015 planner conundrum is a regular size Traveler’s Notebook. I started out using a standard Midori brand TN (which I do adore) but ended up switching to this lovely Gemini leather notebook cover in tan made by Chic Sparrow.


The reason I was attracted to this TN is the fact that it has four elastics in it to hold notebooks, rather than Midori’s two. If I was going to use something that incorporates bound books as my planner, I knew from past attempts and failures that I would need several layouts going at once to do the trick and the Midori wouldn’t hold everything I needed, no matter how many elastic bands I fidgeted with.

Normally, in a ring planner, I like to have a full year’s monthly view, the entire year in a weekly view, and maybe the current week (or even month, if I have the room in the rings) of dailies to view for details. The beauty of a ring planner is that I can take pages out and put pages in with ease. Not so with a bound notebook system like a Traveler’s Notebook

Fortunately, I was able to find all the refills I needed to outfit this TN from Midori. Everything of the Midori brand that you see pictured here was purchased from Baum-Kuchen.

First off, I added one of the Refill 004 Pocket Stickers to the inside front to hold small miscellaneous papers. See it there on the bottom left corner?

inside cover

Ring planners traditionally have plenty of cubby-holes and pockets, but most TNs do not, so these stick on pockets are fantastic. Next up you can see the 007 Card Holder refill. I don’t usually keep too many business cards in my planners, so I have a couple Hobonichi stencils and my Starbucks reward card in them at the moment.

An essential for me is the 020 Kraft File. Again, because your average TN lacks pockets, I use this to hold important papers, bills and the like. Dated or time sensitive stuff goes here, front and center, impossible to ignore. You can also see the front cover of the Monthly Calendar booklet  in orange. I have added a simple Post-It Self Stick Pocket to the front to hold clips and small ephemera.

kraft env

The 2015 Monthly Calendar refill is awesome, but you usually have to snap these up pretty quickly at the start of the year or they sell out everywhere. Fortunately there is also an undated version (Refill 017) that is pretty easy to find. I’m too lazy to write in my own dates though, so thankfully I was able to snag the dated one.


I use color coding to identify pay dates (green), holidays that my office is closed (yellow) and other significant days. US Holidays are not noted on these refills, so my yellow dots come in very handy. I also use blue for special days (birthdays, anniversaries, etc) and red ones for date-dates (bow chicka wow wow!!)

The monthly refill is the whole year in one booklet. For the weeks, you get two notebooks with 6-months each (Jan – June and July – Dec). These are available as a dated 2015 Vertical Weekly Calendar, or as with the monthlies, as an un-dated version.


I only have one of the Weekly booklets in my TN currently, as I feel three notebooks at a time is about all I can stand. IF…and that is a big “if”…I added a fourth notebook, it would probably be an 002 Grid Notebook that would serve as a general capture tool (something I lack in this set up).

Oh, and I’ve also added a Hightide Page Clip Ruler from the Hobonichi store to mark my place in the weekly booklet. Mine is grey, but they also come in black, pink and blue.

Most of my detail work goes on the daily page, and on my favorite of the Midori inserts.


They are Refill 005 Free Diary. I love these things! They are dated and feature a simple bar at the top for a quick title or keyword, and a spot for ticking off the day of the week. The rest is my favorite thing in the whole wide world…quadrille paper. One notebook captures two months. I use these as a day per page planner here in this notebook, and in another TN I have going I use these pages to journal on. They are wonderfully versatile.

Here is the back of the Kraft File, with more papers (though this time they are non-date sensitive) tucked into it.

kraft back

In the very back, I have the 008 Zipper Case. I’ve just got a pad of sticky notes and some calendar stickers in it for the moment. Admittedly, I went a little nuts with the pocket refills, so I don’t really need this…but I like it, so it stays.


Just for the sake of being thorough, here is the inside back of this TN, with another Midori stick on pocket, this time 006 Pocket Sticker, added. This lovely Sparrow was customized to add a riveted on pen loop. With so many TN styles not including a pen loop, I find the fact that this one has one securely built in to be a key feature.

back pocket

In daily use, this set up almost worked for me. So close…it came SO CLOSE!

My main issue is that, although I need at various times to see monthly, weekly and daily views, I most often leave my planner of choice open on my desk to the weekly spread so that I can see on overview of what I’ve got going on all week at one quick glance. In my ringed planners, as I have discussed many times before, I  traditionally use (with great success I might add), a DayTimer Self Stick Hotlist on my Page Marker Ruler, located right in the current week, to note down a running list of my tasks.

week with sticker

With no rings, and therefore no Page Marker Ruler, I have no place for my HotList except stuck somewhere right onto the week’s page itself. This of course proves problematic in that it covers up a day (and also it leaves a sticky residue that interferes with smooth ink flow when trying to write on whatever day was under the HotList previously when I move it around).

That sounds like a simple, stupid thing to get caught up on, but believe it or not it has been quite a stumbling block to this system being a win. I am very much an “out of sight, out of mind” person with my task list, so although I do note daily tasks on the daily page on which they are due, if my book is open to the weekly spread (which it most often is during my work day) it becomes too cumbersome to flip to the necessary day and jot down or look at tasks.

Another issue I’m having is the battle to get this thing to lay flat in whatever view I happen to need. After much tweaking I figured out to put the weekly view in the middle, because that is most likely to lay flat easily with it smack dab in the middle of the book. Still, it takes some backward bending each time I open it.

Lastly, although having no rings to get in the way of my hand when writing is very nice, those sometimes-pesky rings do enable me to put in pages and take them out as needed. There is no punching and sticking stuff in my planner with this baby. Yes, I can fold papers up and tuck them into one of the plethora of pockets I’ve added….but it’s not the same. Sometimes I just flat out need to add pages for a while TO THE PLANNER ITSELF, in the rings, easily flippable and all that. But I can’t.

This and the lack of a good spot for my sticky HotList are the deal breakers I’m afraid.

Those of you who use TNs as their only planner, how do you handle situations where you need to add pages (or take them out when no longer needed) but you’re stuck with a whole booklet? And where do you track your tasks?

As a grade I would give this system a D. While I do have an inherent love for Traveler’s Notebooks and I really, really wanted this to work, sadly, this is going to have to be classified as a Fail and although I love this notebook and no doubt will find another use for it, it won’t be as my daily planner.

Right.  On to the next…

Pocket Full of….

Sunshine? Miracles? Dynamite? Seems a lot of people have pockets full of a lot of stuff.

Me…I’m going to try my hand at a Pocket full of wallet.

Gillio pocket that is.

About a month ago, I moved house. You know how it is when you move…there seems to be a never ending stream of things you need, and often you discover you need things at the precise moment you realize you need it the most.

Case in point: The dishwasher in my new apartment didn’t come with a silverware basket. When I noticed this, I thought to myself, “That’s okay…I’ll just wash these by hand.”

And then I realized I had neither a sponge nor any dish-washing liquid. Because who packs and moves sponges and dish-washing liquid, right?!

So I jotted it down on a piece of paper and went about my unpacking.

Before too long, I had a few lists going…basic pantry items I didn’t bother to move, household utility things, decoratives to look for, etc.

The next morning I trotted off to at least get the grocery and pantry items so I wouldn’t starve, but when I got into the store I discovered to my horror that I had left the list on the kitchen counter.

In the last month I have created and misplaced more shopping lists than I care to admit.

I know what you’re thinking…just put them in your planner, you daft blonde! Ah, but when I go into a shop more often than not I ONLY grab my wallet out of my handbag and bring that in (because I’m too much of a wimp to carry a big handbag AND shopping bags).

So I decided to try a pocket size planner as a wallet, and use the rings for all of my lists.

Enter this lovely Gillio Pocket Compagna in Epoca gold.

This stunner was passed along to me by someone who had purchased it new from Gillio, but who could not make the size work for her.

I can’t make anything this small work for me as a planner either (and trust me, I’ve tried. More than once) but since there were to be zero planning components this time around, I thought I’d give it a go.

Open Front
The set up is simple…in the front I have my three most often grabbed cards (since there are only three card slots); My debit card, my gas card and my driver’s license. In the nifty secretarial pocket I stash receipts, and in the handy little multi pocket at the bottom, I have some stamps.

Then, as you can see, I just have a bunch of note paper for my various lists. I’m working on a new grocery one as we speak.

Open Cards
I stuck a piece of cardboard in after the note sheets to give me something stable to write on, because next come the rest of my cards.

Not bad…just three Filofax pocket size card holders did the trick.

Back Zip
The back has another secretarial pocket and a small zip pocket. I have coins in the zip pocket, and that orange thing you see tucked into the secretarial pocket is a Midori 2015 monthly calendar booklet  just in case I need to check a date or something and this is all I have with me.

Just In Case
Will I ever use it? Probably not. But for some reason it makes me feel better to have it in there. It is passport size, and I got it at Baum Kuchen.

Wallet Pocket
Aside from the zipper pocket, the other key feature that screams “wallet” to me is the nice large pocket along the back that all the Compagna models have. When I have cash (which, let’s face it, isn’t often) it will go in there.

I haven’t tested this in the field yet, but all in all just from putting it all together I have a pretty good feeling.

The footprint is not really any different than the Dooney & Bourke wallet I have been using, so it won’t take up more room in my bag.


My one concern is giving up the security of a zip around for a snap closure. The only loose papers that go into my wallet are receipts, and I think they will be fine in the secretarial pocket…but it is nice to know when you’re out and about carrying your wallet as a clutch, that you can just zip the whole thing up and NOTHING is coming out of that sucker.

So we’ll see.

I need to find a small/short pen for it, but other than that I’m excited for my next shopping trip to give it a try. Hopefully I’ll discover that I’ve got myself a pocket full of win 😉

2015 Conundrum Week One: Mulberry Agenda

The first week of the great planner experiment of 2015 (or, let’s face it…knowing me it’s more like the first planner experiment at the very least) has been completed. This week’s contestant was the lovely  Mulberry Agenda in Oak natural veg tanned leather.

MB closed

There is absolutely no doubt that this is a gorgeous planner. The leather is thick and wonderful, its style is classic and understated and the A6 size is portable and handy.

I have this set up as a planner only…for the purposes of this four-week evaluation I am using a separate wallet so as not to convolute my decision making process more than it already is.

MB open

In the front of the planner, I have the usual ephemera of daily life…business and appointment cards, stamps, small miscellaneous papers. The stunning dashboard was made for me by the wonderful and talented Tweetiepie Collage on Etsy. She does fantastic work and although a dashboard isn’t something one technically NEEDS in a planner, personally I love having something meaningful and motivational to look at right when I open mine up each time.

Anyway, moving on to how I have been using this planner all week…

MB tabs

Since one thing I know I require out of any planning system is tabbed months (or the ability to add tabs to monthly pages), I picked up a set of Girl of All Work Peel and Stick tabs from Amazon. These are colorful and easy to read. On an A6 page I was able to create two rows of 6 months each.

My monthly pages were made by Kiddy Qualia on Etsy. They are month on four pages (similar to how Franklin Covey prints theirs) so that I could add the tabs and incorporate the weekly pages, which I’ll get to in a minute, in between the months.

I especially like them because they are printed on quadrille paper, and given the choice, everything would be on quadrille paper in my world.

MB monthThey are very clean and simple in design, which is perfect for my needs. Since I use my monthly pages as an overview, I don’t need any clutter here….I just want to have ample room to write what I need to write and get on with it, but one thing I DO need is lines. And these give me lines a-plenty. I was even able to request a Sunday start and a note column on the right or left.

Love them!

I had also purchased weekly pages from KQ, but once they arrived it became apparent that the daily blocks were unfortunately going to be too small for both my personal and work scheduling. Which was a bummer because I really like the way they look.

MB weekly

For my second try at weeklies, I went with Piaric. Typically, I do prefer the standard week on two pages layout, but  I decided to go with a custom design of two days per page. This gives me plenty of room for both personal and work scheduling. I do sacrifice the ability to see my entire week at one glance however.

(Side Note: When I moved into this size last year, I was using the Mulberry week on 2 pages inserts and they were ideal. The line spacing was perfect, the paper quality was awesome and I couldn’t have been happier. For 2015 though, they decided to go to a vertical weekly format and there is no way on this earth I can write small enough to make that work in anything less than an A5 size)

MB weeks

As you can see above, there is ample room in this format. The line spacing is wider ruled that I like, but when shopping for A6 inserts, beggars cannot afford to be choosers.

Because the ring sizing is the same as Franklin Covey pocket size, I am able to use my FC page marker ruler with a DayTimer Self-Stick Hot List  sheet tucked in it for my weekly tasks. I’ve been doing this for years in all of my various planning systems and it works really well for me.

Other than my calendar planning pages, I also have some subject tabs in this set up.

MB top tabs

Again, using sticky tabs from that Girl of All Work set I bought, I have “Schedule” (for my calendar pages), “To Do” (for general tasks that don’t need to go on my Hot List, and shopping lists), and “Notes” (for…you guessed it…notes).

The tabs are stuck to awesome dividers made by the Lady Karen Louisa (find her on Facebook in the Mulberry Appreciation Group, as I don’t think she has an Etsy shop).

colorful tabs 1

colorful tabs 2

colorful tabs 3

Isn’t the paper she used perfect with the dashboard and GOAW tabs??!! What makes them truly awesome is the fact that, on the back of each divider, she included a pocket. Win!

MB pocket

So that was the set up in Contestant #1 this week. Technically, it did work. I love Mulberry products and thanks to some extremely creative Etsy friends, this was a very enjoyable piece of kit to carry around.

There were a couple factors that consistently got on my nerves though:

1. The tiny pen loop. Normally I use a big, fat Coleto multi pen that incorporates three different ink colors and a pencil component. This allows me to schedule tentative events in pencil first, and to color code (which I do throughout my planner). But this week I had to accommodate that dinky pen loop. I used a combination of two skinny Cross products; one was a click gel pen (the robin’s egg blue one in the photos) and the other was a mechanical pencil (the black & gold one in the photos). So while I could still do my scheduling in pencil first, there would be no color coding for me this week with out my Coleto.

Could I have carried a pen bag? Sure, but normally I don’t…and frankly I didn’t want to have to start. Could I have stuck said Coleto in the MB rings? Yeah, but that is sort of a pain in the butt when you just want to pop open your planner and quickly jot something down (trust me, I tried it…it lasted about 5 minutes). Could I kluge a stick-on or clip-on pen loop somewhere? Of course, but if comparing apples to apples this week, I wanted to go on what features each planner has out of the box.

2. The lack of truly optimal weekly pages. Now don’t get me wrong, both of the weekly pages I tried were well made and for normal, non-OCD whack jobs like myself they would be fine and dandy. But I am oh-so-picky when it comes to things like font, line spacing, paper feel/writability and dammit I really liked the Mulberry weekly inserts best. The paper was white-white, the lines were a subtle grey, it felt great when turning pages, it took ink superbly and they even had those handy tear off corners so you could quickly and easily flip right to the current week. If MB had not have changed their format to stupid vertical, I more than likely would have never moved out of this planner to begin with.

3. Having to order custom, hand made inserts makes me use them very sparingly. Let’s face it, here in the US A6 is not a size you’re going to find at Staples. Things like To Do sheets, note paper, my beloved quadrille paper…all have to be custom made to order (thank goodness for Etsy!).

Mulberry itself only makes very few inserts for their Agendas; ruled note paper, plain paper, address sheets and the weekly calendar (yes, they also make a Games sheet which is glorified Hangman…but I’m talking about useful inserts here), and they are not cheap.

I have been finding myself debating whether or not something is worthy of writing down in the Notes and To Do sections because I only have so many of those sheets from Etsy and it’s only January. It’s difficult to use your planner as a capture tool if you’re worried about burning through your paper too soon. Just sayin’.

As a grade after one week I would give this system a C. It didn’t fail, but it didn’t work as a seamless organizational tool for me either.

One thing I still intend to do is take this binder to my local cobbler to see if it would be possible to integrate a piece of elastic into the pen loop to accommodate at least a Uni Style Fit (my #2 choice for a multi pen).

If MB changes back to a horizontal weekly format for 2016 I would give this another look in a heartbeat. But for now I can’t say I’m at all disappointed to move on to the next planner in contention.

Stay tuned for week two featuring the Midori Traveler’s Notebook………………..

Another Year, Another Planner Quandary

no idea

The new year is here, and with it, my annual indecision about which planner I want to use.

Truthfully, this indecision pretty much lives with me year round, but at the start of a new year it graduates to somewhat of an obsession.

I ended 2014 rotating between a few Compact size ring planners; namely a Filofax compact Holborn in brown, a Van der Spek standard with compact rings in #104 Janet leather and a Gillio slim Compagna in gold. The insides remained the same no matter which binder I used and I rotated depending on which color shade of brown and pocket layout I happened to be craving on any given day.

In it, I had some trimmed and re-punched Franklin Covey Her Point of View month on two pages tabs used in conjunction with Filofax week on two pages. I also had some quadrille paper in there for the occasional note, but mostly I did note taking on my iPhone using the Notes App.

That’s just what I ended the year with though. Throughout 2014 I vacillated like a mad woman between A6 size (using both a Mulberry Agenda and a custom made, widened Van der Spek Senior), regular old Personal size (ranging anywhere from a Filofax Malden to a medium Gillio Compagna) and a Midori Traveler’s Notebook in regular size.

This is one part of my personality that drives me nuts. All of them worked, but none of them worked OPTIMALLY and no matter what life threw at me. So, as I start a new year I really want to simplify and break this cycle of planner indecision and, let’s face it, craziness.

So as I start a new year, I find myself staring at all four of the planner options I was in and out of last year and wondering which one would serve me best this new year (a year in which is proving to be busier and more complicated already). Is there one I can stick with for the entire  year? No matter what changes come?

Let’s find out with a little experiment, shall we?


                      The four contenders

The four planner sizes/formats that I can’t seem to make up my mind between are as follows:

Mulberry Agenda in "Oak"

          Mulberry Agenda in “Oak”

1. Mulberry Agenda size (A6) with homemade inserts from Kiddy Qualia on Etsy. This has a full year of month on 4 pages (so I can tab them using Girl of All Work adhesive tabs), week on two pages and roughly three months at a time of day per page for detailed scheduling. I’ve also added a small Note section as a capture tool.

The advantages are its small, portable footprint and of course the sheer quality and elegance that is embodied in Mulberry products.

The main disadvantage I can see right now is that the A6 page size might not be enough, given some of the new  changes to my life 2015 has already brought, and also the lack of insert options (that I actually like) in this size. Another huge thing is that the Mulberry pen loop is tiny, so I can’t use my favorite multi pen unless I stick it in the rings which bugs me to no end. I may take this planner to my local cobbler to see if he can add some elastic to the pen loop, but at this time I haven’t done that yet, so it remains a pesky disadvantage in my opinion.

Van der Spek Standard in "Janet Leather #104"

Van der Spek Standard in “Janet Leather #104”

2. Next up is a Standard size (akin to Medium or Personal size). In this case it is a custom Van der Spek with 25mm gold rings and a secretarial pocket added to the front. This planner houses a full year of Franklin Covey 7 Habits month on two pages tabs, as well as three months of the 7 Habits 2 pages per day inserts. I have also added 12 subject tabs with a few pieces of note paper behind each. This is a lot more specialized than a general Note/Capture section, but on the other hand I’m not entirely sure I will need this level of precision, but my OCD demands that I have all 12 tabs in there (because spacing). Sometimes I put this same setup in a Personal Malden (in ochre) depending on mood or weather (as in, if it’s raining out comes the Malden so the Janet leather doesn’t get water spots, which it will). So if, as we go along, you see a Malden pop up in the photos, that’s why.

Advantages are that I have loved FC inserts for many years (but typically not the planners FC makes) and find the wider page to be nice and roomy. I also really like the quality of the paper used and the unique three section daily task list featured in the 7 Habits design.

Disadvantages are bulk and the lack of a weekly overview. This  two page per day layout means a lot of detail in each day, but also a lot of flipping around between days to get a picture of my week. Also, FC does not seem to make quadrille paper, so although I prefer it in my subject tabs, I’ll have to settle for lined. Not a huge deal, but since we are trying for optimum here I thought it was worth mentioning.

Gillio Slim Companga in "Gold"

Gillio Slim Compagna in “Gold”

3. Third in the lineup I have a Compact planner. Because I ended the year in it, I have chosen a Gillio Slim Compagna in gold. It seems that each Compact ring planner has slightly different ring sizes. Filofax are generally 15 mm, Van der Spek is 13mm and Gillio is 16mm (another reason I opted to start the year with the Gillio).

In this planner I have, as previously mentioned, a full year of trimmed to fit and re-punched FC Her Point of View month on two pages tabs and a full year of Filofax week on two pages. I do have a small Note/Capture section as well, but keeping an entire year of weeklies and monthlies pretty much fills these smaller rings.

The advantages of this system are many. For one, I know it and it has worked for me in the past (in times when life is relatively simple), there are plenty of inserts and refills that I can use, it is very portable and the rings keep me from stuffing the living daylights out of my planner or carrying a bunch of stuff I don’t really need.

Disadvantages are also related to its size, in that I might need to add a supplemental notebook or something for projects or if I need more room for things other than my calendars.

Regular size Midori Traveler's Notebook in "Brown"

Regular size Midori Traveler’s Notebook in “Brown”

4. Last up is the Traveler’s Notebook. I own several incarnations of the TN, but chose to set up the regular size Midori version in brown for this test because it is familiar and a widely known brand. I like the Indiana Jones look of the leather and I also have a clip on pen loop that matches it perfectly (cough, OCD, cough).

In it I have (all by Midori) a monthly booklet and the first 6 months of the year in a vertical weekly formatted booklet (they come in a set of 2 booklets holding 6 months each, but I don’t need the whole year in there straight away). Also I have included a quadrille notebook for general note taking and a ziplock pocket as a catch all, since the traveler’s notebooks don’t traditionally have cubby-holes and pockets as ring planners do.

Advantages of this system is the lack of rings to get in the way when writing on (for me, as a righty) the left hand pages, and the ease of archiving the booklets. Not to mention the sheer cool factor…these notebooks make you feel like your life is an adventure, they age wonderfully and they don’t need any babying.

The main disadvantage is the fact that booklets mean less flexibility for adding papers and taking them out, which is very easy to do using a ring planner. Traditionally bound book planners and I have failed miserably together, but I have such a love for the traveler’s notebook that I keep wanting to try again with it.

There you have it.

All have pluses and minuses and let’s face it folks, all of them COULD work…but I’m of a mind to do some dog calling and see which one WILL.

So, as the first few weeks of this new year pass, I will be carrying each for one week to try it out and then writing a blog post to summarize what worked and what didn’t. What could be tweaked and what couldn’t due to the particular limitations of the size or style (maybe something I need to add isn’t available, etc).

I will commit to carrying each for one full week (which is a long time if a planner fails for you on day one, lol!) and then at the end of the four week trial, I will pick a winner. I might even let you all vote too.

And my fellow planner peeps…the point of this whole thing…at the end of the four week trial I will commit to carrying said winner FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR. Period. No do-overs, no excuses. I get the next four weeks to dub around and experiment and then that’s it. One planner for the remainder of the year, no matter what.

Just saying that made me break out into a cold sweat, but I waste so much time (not to mention money!!) going back and forth over planners and inserts, re-copying weeks or months at a time into something new only to change yet again, that this HAS to stop. It has to. I didn’t used to do this…I want a tool to help me organize my life, not a time and money pit that makes me rip my hair out every few months.

So…if you’re wondering why I only showed photos of the exterior of the planners in contention today, it is because each individual one will get more of a detailed breakdown in its individual post as the weeks progress. Don’t want to show all the goodies right off the bat now, do we?

Also, at the end when a victor is chosen, I will do a post featuring the details of the winning set up…any changes I had to make since running the experiment, how I use each planning component, what works and how it contributed to it being chosen…the whole shebang.

What do you think? Are you with me? Think I can do this?

Yeah, me neither, lol!!! But it will be a good excuse to play with a bunch of planners during the winter doldrums amirite?!

Okay, here we go……………………..

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