Scout Books Notebook Review

I have begun to use more and more pocket notebooks. I have taken on a fundamental shift is my use pattern. For several years I held a strict discipline of a single notebook dedicated to my To Do List. Most of these tasks are personal in nature and I rarely have to refer back to them after I cross them off. This strict discipline frequently left me scrambling to look for a piece of paper to leave a note on somebody’s car or at their door even if I had my pocket To Do list notebook with me. The logical sensible thing to do was just tear a page out of that and BAM there was the paper I needed.

I tried carrying two notebooks for a very short while. One for my formal to do list and the other one for everything else. That didn’t work so I’m getting better at using my notebook for what it is. A bunch of blank paper stapled together to write on. If I need a quick list for shopping at the home center, I got it covered, missed mom at home and need to leave her a note, I got it covered. And I don’t carry anymore stuff than I have to. How hard is this right? The only drawback is I go through notebooks faster. I was going through the same amount of paper just not a single notebook as fast. This is a better system by far.

My increased usage had me doing a little shopping recently to see if there was a brand in the marketplace that I was overlooking. Fountain pens get the most use from me and most of those have a fat wet broad nib so wide lines and good paper are a must. Rowan over at Scout Books was kind enough to send me some of their notebooks to try out. A great experience and a great product.

  • Price: $24.95 pack of 10
  • Size: 3 ½” x 5” Is there a standard pocket notebook size anymore?
  • Lots of stock colors available
  • Paper: 32 white pages of 70# recycled paper. Hold on though don’t worry about the sometimes feared R word
  • Available with lined, blank or dot grid paper
  • Line Spacing: ¼” or 6.5 mm
  • Lines: Faint gray dots give a good lined page effect

Construction Fit & Finish – I was very pleased with the Scout Books and how well they are constructed. Folds were straight, printing was consistent and the edges were crisp. They are two staple affairs and all in fine order with the binding. The slip case for 10 books was sturdy enough without be overbuilt and taking away from the money invested in making the notebooks.

Cover – Scout Books offer many different fun styles of covers, the one I spent time with for this review is an all black variant. They carry several cool print patterns and also offer a custom line where you can use your own artwork and have it transferred to the covers using silkscreen, letter press, painting or stamping. Stock offerings come in packages of 10 with a nice slip cover. Custom orders require a larger quanity purchase.

Paper – Scout Books is using 70# paper that I found has very good performance, an added bonus is it’s a recycled paper product. There is some feathering with the wetter nibs but for a utility notebook it’s very acceptable and usually that means extremely fast dry times. Under 8 seconds in my test produced no finger smudges. The line spacing is good for me at ¼”. I like broad nibs and line spacing that is too tight jumbles up my writing too much. Ghosting was minimal and the only bleed through I got was with a Sharpie marker using a heavy slow hand with a lot of ink transferred. Impressive.

Conclusion – Nothing I would add, at $2.50 a notebook the price is competitive for a quality pocket notebook. The recycled paper, if that is important to you, takes just about any ink and wet fountain pens reasonable well. If I had the marketing reach I would love to do a My Pen Needs Ink custom notebook.

Thanks to Rowan and the team over at Scout Books for sending these along and creating a great choice in the pocket notebook sector.

Remember: Write something nice……

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My Analog Room

Over the years I have fallen deeper into this hobby which has resulted in a common collection of pens, inks, pencils, note cards, letter paper and so on. I haven’t amassed a huge collection so I have been able to contain it to a bookshelf in my home office. Though my recent acquisition of paper products has outpaced my use of said paper products so everything gets rearranged to make it fit after I try it out.

I find myself putting off writing letters and not enjoying my pens because of the time it takes to find what I want and the subsequent put away afterwards. I have longed for a good solution and after some mental stalling and fear of just doing it I think I have made some progress. Recently we freed up a room in our house that was starting to collect more random household goods than we wanted. I decided to transition the room to the Analog Room. Not a man cave, but a place for anyone to experience an occasional refuge from email, screens and technology.

The center piece for me will always be the electro-mechanical pinball machine that is very similar to the one I had as a child. I still love a good game of pin without having to maintain a pocket full of quarters.

The first purchase was a writing desk, just for writing, no stapler, tape dispenser, pictures or doodads, just a blank desktop. I wanted small and preferred a roll top variety not for the nostalgia as much as for dust control. Shopping the online classifieds, prices ranged widely and I think some of the sellers’ believed theirs was used by Thomas Jefferson when he penned the Declaration of Independence. I found a reproduction that fit the budget to a point that if this hair brain idea doesn’t work out I’m not out much coin. A short drive, exchange of cash and a cleanup from some domestic animal that shed blankets full of hair in one of the drawers and we got it inside our new room setup. It has a few age bruises but if I ever have to sell it I will go with words like patina and character.

Writing Desk

Immediate Needs

  • Lighting
  • Chair, do I go vintage or comfort?
  • Ceiling fan with electrical, it gets quite warm in there
  • Cellular signal and wi-fi jamming device (ok kidding)

Coming Soon

  • JCPenney table radio that works great with the old tune dial
  • Old citizens band radio desktop microphone that my dad used
  • Typewriter, though floor space may limit what I can do for a stand
  • Flip card rolodex for addresses, or maybe a Col-r-ring?
  • Hardbound dictionary

Cute Creative Stuff

  • A shelf or basket at the door for any visitors’ devices
  • A sign claiming the room as an analog only zone

Conclusion

I’m enjoying the setup so far though with a delay from our friend Irma the storm. I have written the first letter from the new desk to my lovely wife who has been extremely supportive, yes I mail letters to my wife who lives in the same household. I look forward to some Pinterest cruising for analog ideas and inspiration and I’m hoping I can get a few pictures through the window for social media as I progress because remember devices will not be allowed in the room 🙂 .

So do you have an analog space or have any ideas for mine?

Remember: Write something nice……

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Central Crafts Bellagio Journal Review

Bellagio JournalI spend a lot of time in the United States, ok all my life, all the time, but I really do appreciate the products from other countries that are passionate about their quality and reputation. Germany has their cars, Switzerland has their watches and I’m sure there are many other examples. From Italy I enjoy what I know as Italian food, Italian cars are some of the most beautiful in the world and Italian wearables have a reputation for fine quality. Recently I got the chance to review a handmade Italian leather journal from Central Crafts called the Bellagio.

Central Crafts is based out of the UK and has been building relationships with small artisan product makers since 1999. The journal I spent time with is from a small family run leather workshop in Florence Italy. The Bellagio is one of many variations on the classic A5 size journal that Central Crafts offers on their website.

  • Material: Italian Calf Leather
  • Price: $33 US – dependent upon exchange rate
  • Size: 6” x 8 ½” x ¾”Length Overall
  • Colors available: Aubergine (Dark Purple), Black, Chocolate, Fuchsia and Red
  • Paper: Blank cream colored acid free paper

140 Character Review – Italian leather cover in rich chocolate brown with a cool paisley pattern and great paper makes for an enjoyable holder of ink and words.

Construction Fit & Finish
A well-made journal with a little bit of cover flex and corners that are tastefully unadorned. The paper binding is tightly sewn so when using about the first 25% of the pages you get a slight spine hump to work around when writing on the back of the pages. I did not experience the annoyance of any pages flopping over on their own, regardless of where I open the journal up to. A good balance.

Bellagio Journal Bellagio Journal Bellagio Journal

Bellagio JournalCover

The cover is a beautiful chocolate brown with an embossed paisley design on the front and back. The calf leather texture is quite grippy which helps me carry the journal safely and a side benefit this surface texture is it doesn’t slide around on the desk at all.

Bellagio Journal Bellagio Journal

Paper

The paper is cream colored, acid free and Italian sourced. I am not sure of the actual GSM weight but it feels heavy enough, maybe 90 gsm if I had to guess. My broad wet nib fountain pens performed very well with no feathering or bleed. There is some slight ghosting but I’m not a both sides of the paper person so I was ok with it. My gel, rollerballs, ballpoints and pencils worked fine with similar ghosting.

My experience says when a maker thickens the paper up much more to help remove all ghosting then they usually reduce the page count quite a bit for weight and thickness targets. Which speaking of page count I don’t know exactly how many pages there are and I tried to count a couple of times but my fat fingers kept slipping up so I’m going with ALOT of pages. The Bellagio comes in at just over ¾” thick.

Bellagio Journal Bellagio Journal

Bellagio Journal

What I would like to see in the Bellagio

  • More paper options across Central Crafts’ entire journal lineup. The Bellagio only comes with blank paper. A choice of blank, ruled or dot grid would be nice.
  • A ribbon page marker, some use them some don’t, I’m a user and I miss it. A sticky note is just out of character for this journal.
  • A maker’s mark or some other ornamentation on the front or the back so I can quickly orientate the journal when I take it from my briefcase to take down a few lines or notes
  • A few more technical specifications on the website for the various models. Paper weight and page count come to mind.

Conclusion

None of above nit-picks take away from the quality of the paper or this journal overall. At $33 US you get genuine Italian leather, wonderful paper and a very high quality build that is a pleasure to write in.

Thanks to Alma over at Central Crafts for sending me over a Bellagio to try out.

Remember: Write something nice……

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