Van der Spek Custom Planner

closed with pen
Recently I was fortunate enough to receive a lovely custom Van der Spek planner in “Senior” size. Senior is very similar in size to A6, and since I have recently made a MAJOR zeitgeist shift to A6 size and purchased a Mulberry Agenda organizer (also A6…blog post on that forthcoming) I wanted something that could share the inserts I was using in it (since I spent several nights copying over the first half of the year onto them!).

In case you have not heard of them, Van der Spek is a small family business located in the Netherlands that creates their own high quality leather goods by hand.

By hand people!

Take a moment and check out this video on YouTube that highlights the care and craftsmanship that goes into everything this family makes.

For those of you in the ever-growing Mulberry Agenda fan club, but who are perhaps craving a bit of color or customization, here is the Van der Spek custom Senior as compared to a Mulberry in Agenda. Very close…you can see that the Mulberry is just a wee bit wider, as it is a true A6 size.

Van der Speck Senior Left, Mulberry Oak Agenda right

Van der Speck Senior Left, Mulberry Oak Agenda right

It is worth noting that, going forward, it will be possible to request a Senior that has the same dimensions as a Mulberry Agenda. This was sort of an experiment and Petra and I have exchanged emails and photos to get the size closer next time around. Just another example of how customer-centric and involved Van der Spek is as a company.

Anyway, as I was going for a classic, timeless look, I chose Italian nappa leather #6208 (Cuoio) inside and out, with contrast stitching done in #08. To further the customization, I also requested that the binder be widened to get it closer to A6 in size, and that the pen loop be larger so that it would fit my favorite multi pen or fountain pen with ease.

Both of those customizations did carry an extra cost, however it was nominal when compared to the value of having a planner EXACTLY the way you want it.

(Hint: this tricked out custom planner cost less than half of what a MB Agenda would run you. And that includes International shipping. Just sayin’.)

As is always the case with Van der Spek products, when it arrived, I was not disappointed. In fact, I may have actually gasped.

That leather smell is fantastic! To. Die. For. They should bottle it!

The Italian nappa leather is unbelievably soft and supple. It has a slightly “cushy” feel to it and since I elected to forego stiffener, the binder is luxuriously flexible, while still offering adequate support for writing in hand or on my lap.

The “Cuoio” color has a lush British Tan look to it that I just love.

closed front

closed back
Here is a close up of the contrast stitching.

contrast stitching

The interior has a wonderful complement of pockets. Inside the front cover are five vertical credit card slots, with a larger and quite roomy vertical pocket at the bottom. Behind this are two full-length horizontal slip pockets.

inside left

The back features another full length slip pocket, a nice deep vertical pocket and a partially elasticized pen loop. As I mentioned earlier, I had mine made slightly larger than normal to accommodate my penchant for fat pens.

inside back

Wonderfully soft and pliable, this binder lays completely flat the moment you take it out of the box. And also worth noting is that the closure strap does as well. This is a nice feature, as it is always neatly out of the way when writing on the right-hand pages.

open spread
Just to demonstrate just HOW soft and pliable this little custom beauty is, I took these photos! No stiffener indeed ; )

bendy cover

rolled up

Um….WOW right?!

This planner is a joy to use in my day-to-day life. The ample pockets make this a wonderful planner/wallet combo and the durable nappa leather needs no babying…any scuffs or scratches can be rubbed right out with your thumb.

"Oh noes...I scratched my planner!"

“Oh noes…I scratched my planner!”

"Fret not...scuffs and scratches rub right out!"

“Fret not…scuffs and scratches are no match for this planner!”

I opted to use my own inserts in my new custom Van der Spek, although there is an option to purchase VDS inserts right along with your planner.

Next time I will do this, as I have never tried their inserts and I really should. You know, for the sake of research 😉

I am using Franklin Covey “Her Point of View” monthly and weekly pages in Pocket size. As you can see, FC Pocket size is a bit narrower than the typical A6 size inserts this binder was made to fit, but the holes do line up perfectly and I am a person who needs monthly tabs, so I am quite happy with how they are working out.

open in use

Lots of room between tabs and pen loop

This planner has become my every day companion

This planner has become my every day companion

Really, I can’t say enough positive things about Van der Spek as a company, their stellar customer service, and the quality of the product they produce.

By hand.

Exactly how you want it.

Did I mention this planner was custom made for me and that I chose the type of leather, the leather color, stitching, whether I wanted gold hardware or silver (both will get you tight, snappy Krause rings by the way) and how large I needed my pen loop to be?

Everything about this planner makes me happy…because I selected everything about this planner. What a wonderful and unique experience it is to be able to start from scratch and design a productivity tool that is catered specifically to your needs.

And hey, I’m not going to lie…it is SO FUN to mix and match leather types, patterns and colors using the Van der Spek customization tool!

If you are a lover of planners and a fan of fine, hand crafted leather goods (not to mention customer care that is out of this world), then I urge you to go spend some time on the Van der Spek website. You’ll be glad you did.

Thank you to Petra Van der Spek and her family for creating the planner I have always dreamed of…and for being there to create whichever planner I can dream of next 😉

Filofax Original A5- the Dark Teal Reveal!


Recently Filofax UK was generous enough to send me an utterly gorgeous dark teal Filofax Original in A5 size to review. Technically, they are calling this dark aqua, but to my eye it looks more like a jewel-like teal tone.

Plus, “teal” and “reveal” rhyme. Nothing cool rhymed with “aqua”.

Anyway, my love for Filofax’s “Original” line is no secret. I have written about it in both the stunning patent fuchsia and the ever classic retro brown.

But those were personal size and this is A5 size. So this post will be completely  different ; )

Ok, on to the gorgeousness of the dark teal….did I mention that, no matter what you choose to call it, the color was gorgeous?! Just checking.

The iconic "f" subtly embossed on the spine

The iconic “f” subtly embossed on the spine

The Original is as awesome in the larger size as it is in its smaller incarnation. Both lay flat right out of the box and while the single heft of luxurious leather is the same thickness as the personal size, it feels more pliable in A5 (probably because there is more leather surface). It is not so floppy as to be unstable when writing on one’s lap…I would compare it almost to a Malden, but perhaps just a tad more structured.

Anyway, on with the reveal!


The outside front of this lovely  Original A5

And the back

And the back

The interior layout of the A5 is exactly the same as the personal size…only, you know…bigger.

This next bit is photo intensive, so hang on!

Inside the front cover

Inside the front cover. Still we have the “Multi-functional elastic holder”, two slits that will accommodate business cards, and a slip pocket behind

Side note: I think the color of this particular shot (above) is actually the most accurate showing of the color. Despite my efforts taking the photos outside in natural light, most of the other photos look more blue than it actually is in person.

The inserts that come with this lovely planner are:

The dashboard page

A cool “Made in the UK” dashboard page

First up are 6 colored, numbered tabs

Six colored, numbered tabs, alternating between blue and pale green

To do sheets

To do sheets

Some lined note paper

Some lined note paper

Quadrille paper

Quadrille paper

Some plain paper for you sketchers and artists out there 😉

Contact pages (though, there are no A-Z contact tabs with this planner

Contact pages (though, there are no A-Z contact tabs with this planner)

Blue note paper

Blue note paper

Pretty green note paper

Pretty green note paper that, in my opinion, goes strikingly well with the color of the binder

Pink note paper

Pink note paper

Now comes the 2014 diary pages. As usual, you get a full year of week on two pages

Now comes the 2014 diary pages. As usual, you get a full year of week on two pages

Looks like the WO2P sheets have been slightly re-designed with iOS 7-like round dates

Looks like the WO2P sheets have been slightly re-designed with iOS 7-like round dates. Me likey!

Then you have your frosted page marker ruler and a frosted page protector sheet

Then you have your frosted page marker ruler and a frosted top-opening page protector sheet

The inside back has the Flex-esque jot pad and a slip pocket behind.

The inside back has the Flex-esque jot pad and a slip pocket behind.

Ok, so that’s what comes with the Original A5 when you get it. Now on to how I have customized it…the best part of any Filofax 🙂

First off, I am pleased to announce that I have found very functional uses for the now infamous Multifunctional Elastic Holder.

In the outer elastic section I have my vivid pink Pilot Prera fountain pen (the stretchy loop will also fit a 4-barrel Coleto or a Lamy Safari and still allow the binder to be snapped closed). The middle section houses my DayTimer hot list sticky pad, and the other smaller section, which I think is meant to be a second pen loop…but I find placing a pen there creates an awkward lump in the right hand pages when writing on them…I have a pad of sticky flags.

Et voila! Multi-function goodness achieved!

Next up, my set up:

My "Life is Good" sticker dashboard

My “Life is Good” sticker dashboard

This is a clear plastic sheet with my favorite sticker in the whole wide world on it. I use it as a dashboard for random, temporary sticky notes and/or flags that I want to see first thing upon opening my planner.

Then I have my tabs:


Rather ironic that my “Capture” tab…possibly the messiest bunch of scribbled notes on the planet…gets the Simplify sticker, lol!

I’ve got six subject tabs which are, respectively, “Capture” (brain dump), “Quotes” (cool quotes I find that I want to jot down), “Info” (reference sheets, topics to look up, etc), “Projects” (this tab holds a bunch of To Do sheets, with each sheet being a list of action items for a particular project – mostly household), “Blogging” (ideas for things to write about) and finally “Finances” (Filofax check register sheets and a plastic envelope for receipts waiting to be entered into the register).

As you can see, I have decorated each tab with a Life is Good sticker because I am about as creative as a Galapagos Land Tortoise and stickers were the best I could do.

Now, I am in no way affiliated with either Filofax nor Life is Good…but I do love both brands and use each copiously  as often as I can. Usually together.

But I digress…………


“Quotes” gets a colorful peace sign. I don’t know why. It just does.


“Info” gets a seashell. The quote around the sticker says “The little things in life are the big things, founded on the timeless principles of simplicity, humility and a sense of humor”.

Now that I think about it, this one probably would have gone better on the “Quotes” tab given that it has an actual quote on it.


Anyway, next comes “Projects” with a colorful daisy. For no apparent reason.


The “Blogging” tab got another daisy. Daisys are my favorite flower, so I had quite a few of that flavor of Life is Good stickers on hand I guess.

2014-06-15 18.30.57

Finally comes “Finances”, which appropriately enough gets a green sticker with the admonition to Grow. As in, quit spending money on planners and planner accessories you dope or you will have no retirement!

Yeah, right! That sticker doesn’t know me very well does it, lol!

2014-06-15 18.31.08
So there you have it folks, the spectacular awesomeness of the dark teal (dark aqua…whatever) Original Filofax revealed.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…these binders are truly beautiful and well worth every penny. The all-leather construction will last for years and the classic design & zen-like simplicity of the interior make the Original a beautiful addition to any Filofax collection.


Sigh…how could you not swoon?!


Zen and the Filofax Original

a zen arrangementBack in the spring of 2013, Filofax debuted it’s Original line of planners. You can see the announcement on Philofaxy here, and a very comprehensive review of the A5 size here.

I even jumped on the Original bandwagon in the summer of 2013, and you can read my write up of the stunning Patent Fuchsia personal size here.

Ultimately, I ended up selling that Filofax, despite being very much in love with it. I suppose the rather unconventional interior failed to meet my needs long-term and although I adored the shiny, patent leather gorgeousness, I moved on to something without that confounded “multifunctional elastic holder”.

Then, the other day, a funny thing happened. I was reading through my old blog posts, cleaning up links that no longer worked or whatever, and I re-read that post.  Suddenly I found myself overcome with seller’s remorse. My mind flooded with memories of the summer I spent with the fuchsia Original…


(PS you should totally be hearing Barbara Streisand sing “Memories” in your head while you look at those photos…)

Anyway, my own damn post made me long for another Original.

Yup. If that’s not some sort of planner pathology, then I don’t know what is!

Happily, I found a great deal on a Retro Brown one on eBay and it arrived at the beginning of the week. Remarkably, I have been in it for the entirety of the week, without one moment’s thought to using a different planner.

If you know me, that is a BIG DEAL.

I even have a vacation coming up, during which I had planned to move into a Filofax Compact for use as a travel wallet…but I find that, as my departure date approaches, I am re-thinking that.

Now, I will spare you a review, as so many have been done already (the model is, after all, a year old at this point) but what I wanted to share this time around with an Original as my constant companion once again is this:

I have a new-found respect for the Zen like simplicity of this planner.

Confucius said, “Life is simple…but we insist on making it complicated”.


Once I was a woman who wanted to carry literally everything for any contingency life would, could or even might throw at me, in my planner. What if this happened? What if I needed that piece of information?

Yeah, what if the world had to chillax and wait a few hours until I could put my hands on said information? Would the apocalypse ensue? Or have we just become accustomed to the idea that everything must happen NOW?

The interior of the Original once left me wanting (and scratching my head frankly, but I digress…). But now looking at the clean lines and iconic starkness of it makes me smile.

Simple is far more difficult than complex.

Simplicity requires discipline, focus, awareness, clearness of mind.

Here is the inside front cover of my Original this time around:

inside front
No more trying to fit the world inside my planner. Just what I need today.

It is said that the only two jobs of a Zen monk are sitting zazen (in meditation) and sweeping. Sweeping is one of the daily rituals of a Zen monk, one of their most important daily practices. They sweep, and they try to do nothing else.

They aren’t thinking about whether or not they have their significant others social security number or shopping lists for stores they aren’t even going to today, just in case they need it while they are sweeping.

“What tools do I need for today’s ritual?”

My Coleto multi pen. A couple Oli Clips to bundle receipts. My business cards. A few other business cards for people or places that I need to contact. That’s it.

Fact of the matter is, when I’m not using my planner as a wallet in addition, I don’t need a whole lot of card slots or pockets. And, there is probably a case for separating planner and wallet (loss or theft, for example, come immediately to mind) more than one for combining them. I mean, how many times have I been in a checkout line and needed something planner-y? Me personally? Zero.

I was attached to the idea of how cool it would be to have everything with me, all the time…but the reality was that I never once needed it.

Staring at the empty Retro Brown Original and wondering how the heck I was going to fit my entire world into it (and then experiencing the aha moment that  I didn’t need to) helped me realize that.

The Filofax Original definitely has a sort of je ne sais quoi about it. Everyone I’ve spoken to who owns one loves it and raves about it. And really all it is, is a thick hunk of leather with some slits cut into it, a couple of rivets, some rings and a bit of elastic.

Therein lies its appeal I (for me). It is pure leather. One piece. Laid out flat in front of you with no pretense. It is going to be with you a long, long time…all you have to do is look at it and you know this.

It is said that Zen involves dropping illusion and seeing things without distortion created by your own thoughts.

“Sun is warm, grass is green.”

I think the Original is sort of a planner manifestation (plannerfestation?) of that same principle. Not distracted by what goes in which pocket (and my OCD’s need to put something in each pocket), I am able to fully focus and stay mindful about what it is I need to do on a given day. Like those monks, I also try to do those things one at a time, with all of my attention. Full focus, to a pre-determined point of completion. Then shift attention.

“Before enlightenment…chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment…chop wood, carry water.”

This is what I want my planner to be…a simple, useful tool to help keep me clear of mind and light of heart so that I can experience each glorious moment of my life to the fullest.

The Original accomplishes this, all with a clean, minimalistic (yet pleasingly beautiful) aesthetic.

I have ordered another Patent Fucshia….but then I bet you knew I would ; )

Falling In Love All Over Again

This past Saturday, I ventured down to Boston to participate in a Philofaxy Meet Up for Filofax addicts enthusiasts. The weather was gorgeous, the food was to die for and the company was out of this world!

First up, let me say that lunch at Marliave was spectacular! I think all of us were suitably impressed by our meals.


(On the left side (front to back) we had Nan, myself and my better half Doug. On the right side (also front to back) we’ve got Leilani, Juan and Josh. photo courtesy of Nan…click on the photo to see everyone)

Don’t we look happy?! A couple other people were slated to come but couldn’t make it at the last minute, so we ended up with a small, intimate, yet still rather boisterous group.

Our waiter was amazing, and it didn’t take long for  him to ask why we had so many leather books out on the table. He didn’t seem to quite “get” that we collect the leather binders and just change out the paper inserts each year…but hey, he was a very helpful, attentive and friendly waiter so he gets props for doing his part and managing to refrain from treating us as though we were all nuts!

Here we are in another group shot, this time outside Bromfield Pen Shop where we may or may not have added to our collections.


(Left to right: Leilani, Nan, Juan, Josh & yours truly. photo courtesy of Doug)

Back to the Filofaxes…..Josh and Juan brought some fantastic examples of vintage models.


Here you can see my lone Gillio in the foreground and Josh’s lovelies behind. I was especially enamoured with the Hamilton (precursor to the Kendal), but the leather and old school craftsmanship of the Winchesters was definitely something to behold as well. Gotta love vintage Filos!

Nan brought six of her Filofaxes and I was very impressed that she actually has a use for each and every one of them. Stupidly, I was too busy pondering how organized she was to take a photo of her mini-pile (I even caught her noting down her meal in the one she uses as a food log….I, on the other hand, was in complete denial as far as my own food log went, lol!).

At any rate, here is “the pile”…all of our beloved planners. As my late mother used to say, a thing of beauty is a joy forever!


So, that preface aside, this is not an account of our wonderful Meet Up (I do believe Josh is going to be posting the official synopsis? Or Nan? Someone will….that much I’m sure of) as much as it is the story of how I fell back in love with one of my Filofax.

Because, you see, Leilani brought her awesome Regency compact and I have to admit that I had “a moment” when I saw how stuffed and well-loved it was! In fact, until she TOLD me it was a Compact, I thought it was a Personal!


She uses it for her personal planner and wallet (with the larger Erin Condrin planner underneath as her school planner &  for lesson plans). When she took it out of her bag and put it on the table,  my heart went pitter pat.

Now, the days of being able to use a Compact as my one and only planner are long past for me…but I do have a Personal size Regency at home, and seeing Leilani’s made me want to drop everything, run home and move back into it immediately like a desperate, lovesick puppy.

Ok, that analogy made no sense at all….but I’m sure all you Filofaxers know exactly the feeling I’m talking about!

As some of you know, I’ve been all over the place, planner-wise this year so far (just say it…”what else is new”…I know you’re thinking it) spending some time with another favorite brand, Gillio, and then trying my hand at an A5/Compact combo, but seeing Leilani’s Regency sort of brought it all home for me…

I’m a one book kinda girl and that one book is Personal size. Period.

I may downsize to a Compact for vacation and I may leave an A5 at home for hardcore project planning, but for my Every Day Carry, it’s gotta be Personal all the way.

That night, after an awesome day in Boston with the Filofax group and a quick jaunt to the Aquarium with Doug (my all-time favorite place to go in Boston as a kid), I did indeed move back into my Regency…literally moments after we got home.


The Regency really is a stunner, isn’t it?

My very first Filofax was a brown Ostrich Personal from “back in the day” (aka the 1980’s) and when the Regency came out it made me think of the planner that started it all for me and attracted me to the brand in the first place. So when I first saw the Regency in person after it was released I had to have it of course, lol!

Anyway, I digress….

Because I have this ideal of “one book for all things”, I set it up to be my planner and wallet.


The six horizontal card slots fit credit cards perfectly and the inward & outward facing slip pockets hold my cash and reward cards (or receipts). Admittedly, having cash in the outer facing pocket would be more convenient…but with my luck all my money would fall out in the street or something, so I decided to play it safe and stash the cash in the interior one.

See, blondes CAN do intelligent things ; )

Anyway, the diary inserts I always use are trimmed down Franklin Covey Month on Two pages with Filofax Week on Two Page. I include the entire year (which is why I can’t use a Compact for anything other than as a travel wallet on vacation).

fc tabs
I love Franklin Covey’s tabbed Month on Two Pages inserts. These happen to just be the Original design (which I love for the clean simplicity). The design is very well thought out with an index page (shown here) as well as a mini look at the preceding, current and following months.

This is how my planner lays open on my desk. I love the weekly overview, right there at my fingertips and only a quick glance away. Despite my OCD, I do “mix media” so to speak….not only do I have Franklin Covey tabs with Filofax weekly diary pages, I also have a Franklin Covey page marker with a DayTimer sticky HotList tucked inside to hold my weekly task list.

I find this system works perfectly, in that I don’t have to clutter up my little daily boxes with to do’s, and I also get to see sort of a task overview. Not to mention the fact that, if I don’t get something done on a given day, I don’t have to copy it over to the following day.

It’s not that I’m terribly organized folks…it’s that I’m essentially extremely LAZY.

Anyway, aside from the weekly & monthly diary pages, I also have my six subject tabs…


These are just your standard pack of FF Blank Tabs and I’ve used my label maker to create my own labels. Creative, they are not, but they do the trick for my purposes.

Capture: (Filofax white lined note paper) Here I just write down anything and everything. Quick notes, directions, quotes I come across that I like…you name it, this section is my “brain dump”. Usually the things that go here are temporary in nature, so it gets cleaned out weekly.

Tasks: (Filofax To Do Sheets) I don’t keep daily tasks here, but rather ongoing tasks (home improvements, stuff to do before going on vacation, etc) with each topic on a separate To Do sheet.

Lists: (Filofax Quadrille paper) Shopping lists go here, each store getting its own sheet.

Projects: (Filofax Day Planner pages with auxiliary White FF lined pages) This is sort of a catch-all for any ongoing projects I may have. If a project or projects become so unwieldy as to need their own section, I’ll deal with that when it happens and buy another set of tabs, but for now I use one Day Planner page for each project (if said project outgrows it’s Day Planner Page, I just supplement with lined note sheets clipped together) and keep them all behind this one tab.

Info: (Various inserts) This is reference stuff that stays in my planner. I have FF Birthday & Anniversary sheets for the year, a few of the FF reference pages that come with the annual diary pack, my monthly photo a day challenge list (if I’m doing one), a few FF Address pages for snail mail challenge people…stuff like that.

Finance: (FF Check Register Pages, plastic inserts) This section serves as my checkbook. I have a FF Plastic envelope that holds a few loose checks and deposit slips as well as a Gillio plastic Receipt envelope.


The very back of my planner holds necessities like stamps, various business cards, my bank’s quick dial information card and the like.


While the small note pad pocket inside the back cover will hold a Slim Flex by Filofax Jot Pad, until Filofax USA gets relocated and has stuff to sell again, I just get a DayTimer sticky note pad from my local office supply store, which also fits. I usually keep a running grocery list on it, as you can see above.

One feature on the Regency that I really appreciate is the partially elasticized pen loop. I love me some fat pens and thankfully the loop on this model will accommodate them and looks great doing it.


Here you can see my 4-color Coleto multi pen looking spiffy in it.

I would have to say, the Regency is my favorite Filofax that I own. The pocket layout is versatile and useful, it has a gorgeous classic look to it, and it has a couple things that I’m very nit-picky about….horizontal card slots (and plenty of them) and a stretchy pen loop.

Sometimes when you have a lot of planners in your collection, you tend to forget what it was about each one that drew you to it in the first place. My collection certainly isn’t what it used to be, but I do admit that I was guilty of that with the Regency. When I first saw it at the New York Meet Up a few years ago, I remember gasping, rushing right over to the shelf and picking it up. When I saw the price I thought to myself, “Yikes! Put it down….put.  It.  DOWN!”

But I couldn’t bring myself to. I couldn’t walk away from it. And so it came home with me.

Thank you Leilani for helping me to remember, and for rekindling an old love for this beautiful planner : )

Yet Another Dog…

I’ve gotten several comments over the past couple days that my current planner conundrum and how I’m copying everything into 3 binders every day is insane.

I know.

Trust me, I know.

And now, as a result of my pro/con list for the other three, a FOURTH dog has entered the ring. I don’t have a desk anymore, but if I did things would be starting to smack of the infamous “desk of shame”.

Guess what it is?

Did you guess?

It’s a Franklin Covey Classic.

You’re rolling your eyes. I can feel it from here.

But bear with me…here’s why:

1. I want to move to a larger planner but not buy a whole new system or spend a whole lotta money (ideally no money) to do it, and my options for that have thus far been Filofax A5 and Circa Jr.

2. My major beef with the Filofax A5 is that (sorry Filofax) I hate the diary pages. I need lines because I write like a child and the only lined inserts are the vertical weekly. Me no likey. I also need monthly tabs, which…and I feel like a broken record here…Filofax not only doesn’t make, they don’t even allow for, because everything is printed back to back. Not to mention I think the paper quality is poor.

Since, at the end of the day, the real point of having a planner to begin with is using the diary pages and having them work for you, that’s a pretty big beef.

3. The issue I have with the Circa system (which has awesome paper, monthly tabs and a standard horizontal weekly insert option) is the very thing that sets it apart – the discs. While I love that the covers can be flipped over on themselves for easy writing, I just don’t feel like the pages are held securely enough. Sometimes the “smurfs” get stuck or bent and I can’t help thinking that, as much as I use my planner, over time they are going to fray and fail to grip the discs adequately. Rings, I feel, are far more secure in the long haul.

Also, it seems like they are better suited as notebook rather than planners. There really aren’t enough pockets, no zipped compartments, and they always have only one pen loop.

But I like the fact that paper size is essentially cover size; there is very little added bulk. Filofax A5 has a lot more cover than the page size requires in my opinion. But they also have cool pockets (some of them do anyway) and many have two pen loops.

In thinking about the things I liked best about both systems and wondering how I could kluge Franklin Covey diary pages into an A5 (for better paper and monthly tabs) or somehow better secure the smurfs to the discs, I had an a-ha moment.

Why not just use a Franklin Covey Classic size?

The paper size for FC is exactly the same as Circa (5 1/2″ x 8 1/2″) and the particular binder I have is just barely larger than the page size, so no extra bulk. It has awesome interior functionality,  two pen loops, is real leather through & through and of course I can use my beloved Her Point of View inserts in it without trimming and re-punching.

Into the planner bin I went, and I dug it out. I set it up last night and its with me today.

Check it out:

pebbled leather
The binder is a lovely black pebbled leather. And you’re right…it is an open binder, which means it has no closure. Literally the only thing that I don’t like about it.

hpov tabs
Here’s a nice side view. This is an older binder, which they don’t make anymore, so I have no idea the ring size. I believe they are 1″. You can see that they fit a full year of monthly tabs with weekly inserts, as well as some subject tabs I put in to mimic my set up in the Circa. More on that in a minute.

inside front
The inside front cover. Six card slots (with a nice leather snap strap to keep them all secure), and ID window, a pen loop and a secretarial pocket. Note that my fat Coleto multi-pen fits with no problem.

pockets behind
Behind the secretarial pocket is a full length zipped pocket and behind THAT is a full length slip pocket. Storage galore!

life is good sticker
Not to be daunted by all that blackness, I stuck my favorite Life is Good sticker on the front page lifter : ) Yay…some color!

Here it is open (and laying flat). The pages are nice and big, and you can see how fun the Her Point of View design is. Monday through Wednesday are on the left page and Thursday through Sunday are on the right page (with a little section at the bottom of each for notes).

As always, I’m using DayTimer sticky hot sheets tucked inside the Franklin Covey page marker as my task list. Having my tasks right on the day (or in this case, week) keeps them fresh in my mind and I prefer this to keeping them behind their own tab.

In the back there is a notepad pocket and 2nd pen loop. I like to carry my Coleto multi-pen with 4 ink colors (black for most things, green for financial, pink for…you know…romance, orange for Weight Watchers) as well as a mechanical pencil for jotting down tentative appointments.

pockets under pad
Under the note pad, or if you prefer not to use a notepad, there are additional pockets. Two full length horizontal slip pockets (one is for the notepad) and two half length pockets (that perfectly fit a sticky note pad, as it happens).

Now, back to tabs. Franklin Covey sucks at tabs. Their set is a full twelve, and they are tiny. My OCD won’t let me use fewer than all twelve…but I don’t need twelve, so to keep my brain from exploding, I simply avoid FC tabs altogether.

Part of what I want a larger binder for, however, is to carry around other stuff besides diary pages, so for now I have some tabs I had laying around that were for a smaller 3-ring notebook inserted.

first 2 tabs
The first 2 tabs I’m using are Capture and Lists. Capture…you guys already know what that is. Lists is self explanatory. Shopping lists, errand lists, photo a day challenge lists – if it’s on a list, it’s behind that tab.

last 3 tabs
Then I’ve got Notes, Quotes and Fitness. Also pretty self-explanatory.

Cute, colorful and fun aren’t they? I like them way better than the plain Filofax tabs in the A5.

I would like to note that, to this point, I have thrown this thing together without spending a cent.

Since I really liked the Circa colorful plastic tabs, tonight I am going to go to Staples and pick up another set of Arc ones to punch for this binder. I think the punch will go through them, but I’m not 100% sure since they are plastic, but I’m betting they will…back in the day I sprung for the good, metal FC hole punch ; )

Because the page size is the same as Circa, I also punched some of the awesome Levenger graph and note paper to use in this planner (FC does not make graph paper and I find their note paper to be too widely ruled for my tastes). Levenger paper quality is AWESOME, so I was psyched that the paper was the same size.

graph paper

See the smurfs alongside the ring holes?

note paper
Here’s the note paper. These pages are right over one of the tabs, so you can see the smurfs a bit better as the color shows through.

Fraying smurfs are a concern…although since they aren’t being used to hold the paper in place they would only be an aesthetic issue. I could washi tape over them if I had to. Or perhaps since they are not being used to turn the page they won’t fray at all.  I’ll keep you posted.

See what I mean? This is a strong contender for Top Dog.

True, the binder has no closure and I don’t particularly care for that…and it’s black – in direct opposition to my craving for all things luscious and colorful. But the insides are fun and at least I have color there. And I suppose if the system itself ended up working well enough to stick with, I could hunt for a colorful Classic binder on eBay or something. They’re out there…I’ve seen some of you with them, lol!

So now it’s a four dog fight. Two Filofax contenders, two other brands. Oh, the drama!

Keep in mind that I couldn’t simply put the tabs, the Levenger paper or the FC Her Point of View diary pages into the A5 because Filofax paper is a different size; it’s actually slightly larger at 5 3/4″ x 8 1/4″. So to get what I want inside the A5, I would have to use all off-brand inserts or the size difference would drive me even more insane than most of you think I already am.

Maybe I’ll stick a poll in and let you guys vote…what do you think of that?

Here Doggie, Doggie, Doggie…

calling the dog

I’m doing it again.


As you know, I’ve been using a lovely new Filofax “Original” in drool-worthy fuchsia patent leather. My black little heart goes pitter-patt even just saying the words, “fuchsia patent leather”. Heaven.


(And you know there is always a but with me)

As we have discussed in the comments to my last post, the inside of my beloved little patent fuchsia dream is proving to be somewhat disastrous the more I use her.

The elastic thingie is driving me bat shit crazy. Yeah, okay, I can use it to carry my Coleto multi-pen, but why oh why couldn’t they have put that first loop a wee bit further out? Even a skinny pen will bend my tabs. The fat Coleto is wreaking havoc with them.

Then there is the utter and complete nonsense that is the other part of the band. You can’t really PUT anything in those bits unless it is something flat (like papers…but you’d better hope they don’t slip out). More pens or do-dads or whatever will only make your left hand page lumpy to write on.

And putting a 2nd pen or mechanical pencil in the right-most “loop” does the same thing.

Bulge city.

And not the fun kind.

Add to that my desire to do more than just track my Weight Watchers points on the end page of every month’s tab and yet more changes to my life over the last week, and this weekend found me experimenting with alternative planners.

Big ones.

Thing is, there are TWO bigger planning systems that I like. And now I find myself lugging three planners around, doing some hardcore dog calling. Again. Still. Whatever.

1. The lovely yet vapid Original patent fuchsia in Personal size (even despite her flaws, I can’t quite let her go…)

2. A Filofax A5 Chameleon in Spring Green

3. A Levenger Circa in Junior size

I know, “one of these things is not like the others…” but I have to admit that, in my time playing with Circa (or Arc, or whatever) I have really liked the system and found some things I even like better than Filofax.

For today’s purposes, let me illustrate my Fitness section in both and maybe you can see my dilemma.

This is actually Part 1 of a two part post. Both systems obviously have plusses and minuses. I’m just showing you one section of what I use my planner for; sort of a microcosmic view into a macrocosmic problem.

The rest of which will come later on this week.

First the A5 Chameleon:

FF A5 fitness tab
Here is the Fitness tab in my Filofax A5. Your average, every day Filofax tab. I’ve jazzed it up with an inspirational Life is Good sticker, but it’s still pretty…blah. I’m not clever enough to make my own tabs, so this is pretty much the best that I can do.

And below is my Weight Watchers point tracking page. It’s just Filofax graph paper and it’s not meant to be frilly – just serve the purpose. Which it does.

FF tracking pg
Now for the Circa:

circa fitness tab
Here’s the tab. Lime green baby! I actually think the tabs are from an Arc set from Staples, but Levenger has colorful tabs too (they’re just more expensive). Fun, right?

circa tracking pg
Here’s the tracking page.  Pretty much the same deal as the Filofax page…just graph paper.

And here, just because I haven’t copied it yet (yes, I am copying everything so that I have 2 identical binders going…one Filofax A5 and the other Levenger Circa. And yes, I realize that is insane) is my workout page.

Just another graph paper sheet. But what I like is that Circa’s fold over on themselves, so writing on the back of the sheet is super easy. No rings to get in the way. I went straight for the Circa to log my workout because I knew it would be easier to write on both front & back of the page.

Just sayin’.

circa workout

Please don’t guffaw at my light weights…it was my first workout in ages.

And here is kind of the kicker…

ww pages circa

Weight Watchers Cheat Sheets fit!

Because Circa Junior pages are 5 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ (a letter sized piece of paper folded exactly in half), my little Weight Watchers handouts can easily be punched and put right into it.

And the page size matches the refill page size too, so that pleases the OCD.

Check out the same WW page in my A5.

FF ww page in holder
The WW pages are smaller than Filofax pages (which are 5 1/4″ x 8 1/4″), so I have to put them in clear plastic envelopes. This has the advantage of protecting them from my grimy fingers if I want to reference them while cooking.

Stop laughing…I cook occasionally.

Okay, I have cooked. In my life. Before. And I may again someday.

Anyway, the envelope has the disadvantage of sticking out just over 1/2″ beyond the rest of the pages, which means it will block my other tabs and would have to go in the way-back of my binder in order to not tweak the OCD into homicidal rage.

WW in original
As you know if you follow me on Flickr, I also track my WW points in my Original, but there is no way I’d ever go to the trouble of trying to make inserts or cut down existing articles, etc for a Personal size.

Ain’t nobody got time for dat.

Plus, as I was starting to say, life is changing yet again and I’m feeling the need for additional room in my planner. As in, page size, not ring girth.

: ) I said girth

Stay tuned for Part 2 where I talk more about said life changes and why I’m toying with bigger planners, also I’ll include an in-depth pro/con list for the Circa and the A5.

For now I am, once again, torn between systems. I can count carrying three planners around as a workout…right?!

Unapologetically Iconic

One of the most buzz-worthy new Filofax models for 2013 is “the Original”.


I was lucky enough to get my grubby little paws on one recently and I have to say, it was love at first sight.

teh shiny
I mean, how could it not be with shiny goodness like that?!

As you know, I am having an ongoing obsession with pink these days, so I was torn between the fluoro pink and patent fuchsia when it came to the Original.

Afraid the fluoro pink might be too…fluoro for my corporate alter-ego, I played it safe and went for patent fuchsia.

I was NOT disappointed.

There are several great reviews of the Original out there already, so I won’t waste your time with an unboxing or what refills came with it. If you know me at all you know I’ve already tossed them. If you want comprehensive reviews, definitely check out Plannerism’s awesome video review, or the press write-up on Philofaxy or Steve’s stellar review of the A5 size in comparison to his Malden.

There are more…these are just a few that contributed pretty heavily to my desire for one, lol!

This review is no match for those that came before…I’m just here to  show you my own personal spin on this juicy, luscious, fingerprint magnet in use.

Which is no small feat, given what awaits a potential Original owner on the inside!

inside front
As most of you know by now, the inside functionality of the Original is, um, original to say the least.

Not judgin’…just sayin’.

Along with 2 card slots (they aren’t pockets…just slits in the thick leather that you can stick business cards into) and a full length slip pocket behind those, the Original has what Filofax calls a “multifunctional elastic holder”.



I call it “the elastic weirdness”.

It is basically one small elastic section (which makes for the only reasonable pen loop location) then a larger elastic section in the middle, and another small (but awkwardly placed) section to the right that would fit a pen, but putting one there made a poorly placed bump underneath when writing on the left-hand pages.

I do use the outermost section as my pen loop, and as you can see above, it does accommodate even larger pens like my Pilot Coleto multi-pen.

But what the heck are you supposed to do with the middle section?!

or an android
Experimentation proved that it will hold an iPhone (however, I don’t have one anymore – I have a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 that is practically the size of the planner itself –  and to be honest, I’d be afraid it would stretch the elastic out to the point where, if you ever decided against carrying your iPhone there, it would be too stretched out to hold anything else) and of course you can stick small papers, receipts and other planner detritus in there…but again, unless it was something that clipped to the elastic, I’d be concerned about how secure it would be after the initial elastic-y newness wore off.

This is an iPod Touch standing in for an iPhone...but you get the idea

This is an iPod Touch standing in for an iPhone…but you get the idea

Suffice to say, I have yet to find any real, practical use for my very own multifunctional elastic holder.

But you know me, I am attracted to challenging, quirky things…so neither odd configurations or the constant compulsion to wipe down my planner with the cloth I use to clean my glasses (because the patent leather – any patent leather really – is indeed a fingerprint magnet) is gonna stop me from using and enjoying this stunning, iconic Filofax!

I attempted to take a photo of the ‘f’ on the side but the glare practically blinded me. THAT’S how shiny it is! I’ll leave catching the icon at work to the professional photographers ; )

You know who you are.

Back to…you know…planning and stuff. These days, I use a mish-mash of brands. Did you hear that OCD? A mish-mash I say!

What I see when I open my planner

What I see when I open my planner

To start things off, I have a Filofax transparent Flyleaf, which serves as somewhat of a dashboard. On it at the moment I just have a sticky note pad. I’ve also stuck a small “Life is Good” sticker on it. It says, “What is beautiful is good and who is good will soon be beautiful.”


I try not to look at it until I’ve had my morning caffeine ; )

Then I have my favorite-est inserts in the whole wide world – Franklin Covey “Her Point of View” monthly tabs (I was going to post a link to them but they are sold out!!).

monthly tabs
I love the colors, the easily readable font the tabs are printed in and the functionality. It is a month on two pages layout, with Sunday as the first day of the week (for those of you who care).

On the front of each month, there is an index page to list important dates for quick reference (or to just use for notes, as I do) and on the back of each month you will find a Master Task List with sections for Personal & Business. I use this page to track my Weight Watchers points (Personal = Food, Business = Activity).

I’m relatively confident I’ve blogged about these inserts before, so feel free to peruse the archives.

thick leather_top
Looking down from the top you can see how nice and thick the leather is.

Yes, it lays completely flat, right outa the box

Yes, it lays completely flat, right outa the box

Despite the nice, substantial heft of one piece construction, the Original does indeed lay flat from the get-go. I will be very curious to see how it breaks in over time, because it starts out pretty wonderful.


In between the pretty monthly tabs, I just use your average, run of the mill Filofax Week on Two Pages inserts.

You’ll notice I’ve changed out the Filofax Page Marker Ruler for its Franklin Covey counterpart. I’ll wait while you scroll back up to see it.

The FC one is actually open (to accommodate their Progressive Task Lists, but I don’t really care for those) so I stick two DayTimer Self-stick Hot List sheets back to back and put them in the ruler. I use one sheet per week, toss it, and slip in another one when the new week arrives.

The Original has 9/10″ rings (that’s close enough to 1″ for those of us who just want to know how big the damn rings are without having to do math) so it can fit a full year of monthly tabs and weekly inserts comfortably…along with my fat Coleto pen…and snap shut.

thick leather_side
The inside back, just like the front, is quite sparse.

inside back
It features a Notepad pocket that will fit a  Flex Slim Jotpad. It’s not a true pocket however…it is open at the bottom. So no using it to store tall, skinny things.

Because you know you were going to ; )

As you can see, I’m using this cute little pad for my Filofax Photo-a-Day Challenge list right now, and that’s probably how I’ll continue to use it…for lists. Seems pretty conducive, don’t you think?

inside back pocket
Fortunately, the back also has a full length slip pocket. Now THAT is something I can use! Though, since the cover of the Jotpad is slotted back there, you do have to be careful that papers don’t catch on it when sliding them into the pocket.

Because the interior functionality wasn’t going to meet my needs, I loaded my Original up with plastic inserts.

I’ve got a couple business card sheets, one clear plastic envelope, and a multi-purpose holder in there right now, and a zip envelope on order.

That’s how much I love the Original…I don’t even really care that someone fell asleep when they were conceptualizing the inside of this thing (or was very, very drunk). I’ll deal with having to use plastic inserts…just give me that shiny patent leather fuchsia amazingness!

In all seriousness, I do really like this binder. It reminds me of my first Filofax from the (ahem) late 1980’s; solid construction, just leather/no padding and made in the UK.

Which was, I suppose, the point all along. Otherwise they would have called it “The New”. Amirite?

After seeing the other reviews, I honestly didn’t know what I would think of the slots rather than pockets, and the elastic….thingie. And I suppose how both fare in long term use is yet to be seen because the product is so new.

I will tell you this, though – it will be a pure pleasure to find out! I adore the look at feel of the patent leather, it makes me happy every time I pull it out of my bag, and lemme tell ya, I get a LOT of compliments on it when I’m out and about.

We Filofaxers are never ones to be put off by some of the wonkier aspects of our favorite brand and there is far more to love about the Original than there is to raise an eyebrow in puzzlement over.

Besides, how could anyone resist those colors!!


The “Calipso Twins” Have Arrived

Kanalt and I were graciously given Filofax Calipso Compacts to review…be sure to check out our  posts on Philofaxy today : )

Gypsy…the “good twin”

Trixie…the troublemaker

I’ll leave it to you to guess which planner goes with which owner, lol!

Coming Soon to Two Blogs Near You…

got twins


It Ain’t Heavy…It’s My Planner

Okay, substitute the word “pretty” for the word “heavy” and that’ll be more like it. But hey, looks aren’t everything! And I happened upon this binder the one day it was on wicked sale, so I almost don’t care what it looks like.

As seems to be typical of Franklin Covey, it is back to regular price now, so I will spare you the particulars of the insane deal I got on it.

Anyway…here it is:

friday closed

This new planner is definitely NOT heavy! It is the Franklin Covey “Friday” binder in Compact size. It is constructed of lightweight black ballistic nylon and it is “designed for users who combine paper and electronic planning”.

Sound like anyone you know? **wink**

The exterior front features a gusseted pocket for your cell phone. It comfortably fits my iPhone 5 with room to spare.

(this is an iPod Touch...I was using the iPhone to take the picture...but you get the idea)

(This is an iPod Touch…I was using the iPhone to take the picture…but you get the idea)

And since my objective is to use this as both a planner and wallet, I am very psyched that the rear has large zipped pocket (which I intend to use for coins).

ext zip

Having***one thing*** to grab out of my humongous handbag when I run into a store that will hold my phone, wallet and has the added benefit of my lists and planner stuff, all while remaining light, durable and weather-proof, is just about enough to make me do the Snoopy Dance.

The outside may be Meh in the looks department, but functionality (inside and out) is really great.

On the inside of the front, there is an elastic pen loop, a full length slip pocket (from which you can see my checkbook peeking out – and also obscuring the pen loop, but trust me, it’s there) and four card pockets. Since this is going to be my wallet, I have some of my most-grabbed cards here, as well as a pad of sticky notes for quick access.

left inside

You can see that I also have a FC plastic card holder in the front with the rest of my cards/ID’s. This insert is also a plastic sleeve, so I have cash and coupons behind the cards. Coins are in the aforementioned exterior zipped pocket.


Those are the wallet bits. Behind this I have my planner. More on that in  minute.

The back has a full length slip pocket, a note pad pocket and a 2nd elastic pen loop. I have no idea what I’m going to use these pockets for at this point, but I like that they are there. I’m thinking the note pad pocket would make a great stash for receipts.

back pockets
Yes, that is a Pilot Coleto in the pen loop. The color is “soft green” and you can get your very own at JetPens.

I’m not using the note pad pocket for it’s obvious purpose because this binder’s 1″ rings gives me room for a Swing Pad.

open back

(I’ve got a plastic envelope on the left with my stickers & Hot Sheets, and the Swing Pad on the right, which currently holds a grocery list in progress)

Swing Pad’s are awesome, but I don’t always have room for them.  Being able to easily use the pad to make note of items I need on the fly and have the list handy like this when I’m in a store means the Friday gets an A+ as a wallet.

Traditionally, I have not much cared for zipped binders, but using the Giada as a planner/wallet for the last week made me long for the added security a zip-around would provide.

So, even though the wallet part is covered  extremely well, how will it do as a planner? Right out of the gate it gets points for laying flat!

lays flat

(The iPod Touch was still in the front pocket when this was taken, which is why the front tilts up a bit)

As you know, I am trying to simplify my planner, so I am currently using FC Her Point of View Two Page Monthly Calendar Tabs, with Her Point of View Ringbound Weekly refills and THAT’S IT. Happily, as a result, I can fit the entire year in this binder.


I am solely using my planner for personal items now – all work stuff stays at work. Appointments go on my 2013 desk blotter/calendar, and all work tasks go on a Steno pad that also gets left at work. If I think of a work task I need to do while I’m at home, I just write it on a sticky note and then add it to my work Task List the following day, but it does not stay in my planner.

Basically, my new minimal set up goes a little something like this:

Appointments only in the daily blocks. Maybe a critical reminder or two that I would need to refer back to, but not as a rule. Tasks will go on a DayTimer Hot List placed inside my Page Marker. The Hot Lists are sticky pads, but rather than gunk up my ruler with day after day of sticky residue, I just adhere two back to back and slip them inside it, thus giving me one for each half of the week’s view. Works great so far.

What about tabs you ask? Believe it or not I only have one these days…

ww tab
The ol’ dub-ya, dub-ya (that’s “WW” for those of you not up on Southern US vernacular). Weight Watchers. This has a few note pages behind it on which I’ve created cheat sheets for Points Plus values of meals I can have at my favorite restaurants, so I don’t have to look them up every time, or be totally rude and search for them in the iPhone app at the table.

Other than that, it’s just Monthlies.

month tabs
I love these Her Point of View tabs…they are both easy to read and colorful.

Quotes, notes, capture items, whatever can be jotted down on the Swing Pad and then removed/transferred to where they need to go once I get home. Easy peasy, bacon cheesy!


Four points per slice in case you were wondering.

But I digress.

I love the function of this planner, and the inside is sufficiently cute thanks to the Her Point of View inserts, but the outside is rather blah. Black nylon. Yawn.

Because I’m an uber-dork and I am still in my “fuchsia phase”, I ordered a cool, hot pink Lotus patch from Amazon to jazz it up.

lotus patch

The item description didn’t mention dimensions, so placement will be dependent on its size. What do you think…fun idea? Lame idea? “Oh my god cancel the order now it’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard you crazy broad you”?

Stay tuned for an update as to whether or not this potential planner solution is still going strong after a week, or if it joins the Fail pile. And you know you wanna see what happens with the patch ; )

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