The Crazy Suburban Mom: 2014-01-12

Saturday, January 18, 2014

A real Wow!

A Pocket Rio has been my wallet for over a year now.  Just a wallet though, the only thing I kept in the rings was scrap paper for shopping lists.  It really wasn't meeting it's full 'binder potential'  but worked on a lot of levels; It held what I needed and fit in my coat pocket so taking Ventura for a quick ride to the park was purse free.

A few weeks ago I started using it as a price book (information about price books here) and decided to use my Portland Personal Filofax as wallet instead.   Yes, I'm always looking for a reason to use it, I just love that thing,  but the real reason for the switch  is it makes more sense as a binder for me.

Bigger pages hold more  price book info per page and my cash envelopes are personal size, so it seemed like the switch makes sense.   The downside is it doesn't fit in a coat pocket but I'll get over it.

My switch coincided with Jetpens  creating a new planner section so I had an excuse to try the Davinici bible sized inserts; Raymay the makers of Davinci products is a Japanese company and personal size is called Bible in Japan.  I got the 100 sheet blank pages ($3.70) yesterday and the paper is fabupapertastic (Translation: amazing) and I placed a second order for lined pages and inserts .

BeFunky Crop on iPhone

The sheets are very thin, almost tracing paper thin, and they will crinkle if you handle them enthusiastically... To me, they feel half as thick as Filofax paper which is pretty darned thin and my first instinct was, No way ink won't come through the other side. (It didn't)

I did some pen tests but my fountain pens are currently in need of a major overhaul so I couldn't do those.  (There are already a lot of reviews for fountain pens though, as near as a Google search.) I tested pens that I use all the time, pens that go through Filofax paper, one highlighter (that wasn't successful on Filofax paper), and just as a knee-slapper, a thick Sharpie marker.

BeFunky Crop on iPhone

The front sides are featherless on all inks...

BeFunky Crop on iPhone

Even the Sharpie...

BeFunky Crop on iPhone

Tomoe River paper is more ivory then white and it's surface is very smooth and soft but not in a glossy way like Clairefontaine or a powdery way like Rhodia.  If Rhodia and Clairefontaine had a paper baby, it would be a bouncing baby Raymay insert.  Tomoe River makes the inserts, they are a Japanese Company well known for their thin paper that excels with fountain pen ink.  There is a lot  of resistance to bleed-through and feathering in this paper.

Are there any downsides? Nothing that is a deal breaker for me. There is some shadow on the backsides but with the pens I use daily, it's pretty minimal considering it feels like I'm writing on dictionary paper. What can show is impressions from pressure if I write with a lot of force.  If you write with a heavy hand in a binder you may see impressions on the back and even on the next page.

 Keeping this is mind I try and write light which is a good thing as it reduces muscle fatigue in my writing hand.  Because ink sits on the surface rather then be absorbed by the paper, drying time is longer then other papers.  For the pens I used it was minimal but might be an issue if you use fountain pens and are left handed.  

BeFunky Rotate on iPhone

As to the backsides, you can see some pen dependent shadow but this happens a lot on Filofax paper too.

BeFunky Rotate on iPhone

The thick Sharpie marker was the least successful as it always is.   The ink is a solvent based dye and doesn't behave like other permanent pigment inks.  It's 'wet's' paper and is absorbed more readily in all cases.   Even though the backside is dark...


A lot of it is dark shadow with only spots of what probably is bleed through  but there is no feathering. Of course it's not an ideal pen for this paper if you want to use the flip side and I mostly did it to see what would happen.  I don't have a Sharpie pen but I've read they work better on paper then the markers.  They might be successful on these inserts, I'm just not sure. 

Overall these inserts are a real Wow!  Thinner paper means I can have more pages without the constant archiving, it's got a great writing surface, and handles a dazzling array of inks well. 

And this has got me thinking...   I wonder if they come in A5?


Friday, January 17, 2014

2013 Favorite planner and there's no app for that...

I love technology but not in the same way I love my paper planners.  I'll admit to spending way too much time online and having a smart phone doubles it.  Some days I feel overly connected to some nameless, impersonal, cosmic grid.

And I know this just isn't me. I rarely see a person walking his dog without his head bent over having a furious text convo or laughing over something the person on that other end of the blue tooth said.   I'll be honest, this always makes me sad between 5 and 6 pm.   These dogs have waited eight or ten hours and not just to go out... but to connect with their packs.   Problem is their packs are connected to something else...

There are problems with both analog and digital planning. They probably work best in tandem but digital planners don't tug at my heart strings because  I don't have the same emotional connection to them.   I don't pine away for a twenty year old cell phone the way I feel attached to my original Filofax Portland.

I don't spend any amount of time wishing I could use my first cell phone  - in fact, I'm glad it's gone the way of the dinosaurs -  but I get a giant sad face on when I'm not using my Portland. And I don't think I've ever took an artistic picture of my original Motorola phone but my Portland...  oh.  I've done that a lot.

Filofax, pen, & Wallet

  Here we were at Starbucks and oh! What a time we had chatting over a latte.

starbucks and a filofax

I even have artsy shots of my Malden and I don't feel nearly the pull to it that I do for my first ever Filofax. 

 There's something exquisitely personal about a Filofax, something that makes it part of who I am as well as who I want to be.   I've printed up Instagram pictures of my Portland Filofax like I do my family because there is some undefinable,  very personal connection involved.  

As I said, I love technology but not in the same intimate way.    I have a ton of apps but none  give me the wonderful warm fuzzies of my Filofaxes...  And there's no app for that.


2013 Favorites continues, KawaiiTokyo

I've posted a lot recently about how spending a bit more per item (that I really, really want) is working out much better for me then buying a lot of inexpensive items.  Buying more carefully gets me things that work, reduces the general clutter of stuff, and doesn't make me as anxious.

While decoration isn't the primary reason I use things... If  what I buy is useful, works, and adds something whimsical to a not so fun to do list then it's win/

Which brings me to these...

And etsy...

By 2013 I'd amassed a hoard of flags, tags, and sticky notes... Many of them adorable, most  had to be taped or glued on (the one's that weren't strictly utilitarian, anyway).  Or they stuck fine but curled up. I get that non-sticky sticky notes is a negligible problem in the grand scheme of things but it aggravated me daily.

Why even call them sticky notes when they are non-committal about their stickiness... Why not call them laissez-faire notes?  Anyway...

I began to actively seek out Japanese office products for the quality, design, and amazing stationary-tastic diversity.

 I've used etsy and eBay since 1999.  I love to buy locally but a lot of times it's not possible.     At one point I bought from eBay almost exclusively but, I don't know... etsy has a friendlier, more personal quality.  The sellers, as a whole, seem to try harder to make the sale a positive experience all around.   'Trying' is an odd thing to measure but I guess with etsy, it feels like I'm buying from a friend. Overall, communication between buyers and sellers is better and things are packaged with care (and frequently with added fun).

Of course I'm making generalizations and people do have their share of etsy related issues, but for me,  it's been more satisfying then shopping eBay on  a whole lot of levels.

I've posted about my favorite seller, Sayaka at KawaiiTokyo,  a few times this year.  Besides liking the things she lists, she's been very helpful in getting things I'm having a difficult time finding.  I love that she is open to requests for things not listed in her store.   If I want an item she doesn't have, she will source it for me, tell me the price with shipping and if I want it, she will get it for me.

 As an aside: I don't want to put her out with this.  When I'm doing that kind of request I try to be pretty sure I'll want it in the end because  it wouldn't be fair to give her a giant list of things I'm just thinking about maybe getting ... someday.  I don't want her to spend hours of her own time looking around, gathering prices, and emailing with me if I'm just testing the waters...     I've asked her to help me get things I wanted, maybe five or six times in 2013, and I bought all but one thing.

Some of my favorite and most useful purchases from her are...

my beloved template...

I tried to find one of these everywhere for well over a year.   She still stocks this one and has other types of templates now.  I love that it's easy to fit in a Filofax and there are little marks on it so you can line up the images better.

She recently started listing washi tape on thin flat spools that are perfect and easy to carry in a planner pocket, even one that's pretty tight.   I can get washi locally, or at least the US version of washi tape.  Some of it I've liked although most of it doesn't resemble Japanese washi tape very much.  It's like the US manufacturers got wind of it's popularity and started producing decorative tapes.  Some of it is okay but none of the one's I've tried are near as good as the one's from Japan.

tiny diary stickers..

She stocks all different kinds (as well as really cute hole reinforcers, but I haven't tried them yet) and I love these, have many different kinds.  They are great on the month of two page inserts and because they are really small, perfect for any size planner.

I couldn't do a favorites series without mentioning her.  Almost all of the things I use along these lines are from her.   She is friendly, helpful, packs thing nicely and ships quickly.  Most things I received in about a week but she is shipping from Japan and sometimes there are international postage issues unrelated to her that delay getting my package (Just experienced one).    But I would rather wait and get exactly what I want then get something quicker that is just 'okay'...   This is my last order received yesterday...

BeFunky Orton on iPhone

As always, it's all kinds of fabulous!

Thanks, Sayaka!   I appreciate all you do!


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

2013 Favorites continues with, Jetpens, Will you marry me?

Continuing with my Favorites of 2013, I'm moving onto Jetpens (of course). I've never had an order / customer service issue, they have a low free shipping minimum, the staff is very responsive to questions and their inventory is expansive and divine.  I'd totally like to spend the day in their warehouse opening boxes, checking stuff out, giggling and clapping my hands like a five year old girl with a new pair of shiny shoes.

Which is probably why I've not been invited.  Who would want to see that?

 Now that they've added a Planner Lover's section including (be still my paper planning loving heart) PLANNERS (!) from Japan I'm feeling me some Jetpens love in a more permanent will-you-marry-me sort of way.

The Raymay Davinci product line - Currently available  in pocket and personal (called Bible in Japan) size, is something I've wanted to try for years.    I've been using my A5 Malden lately and for all it's corpulent wondrousness ... It's a bit like carrying around a toddler, which gets old faster then is convenient.  I've been using my pocket Rio as a wallet/price book but it has it's limits. 

 I have been trying to find a planner specifically as a travel wallet/travel planner for most of 2013 and haven't been successful. Planner nerdiness requires I take a planner on vacation (It's a law.  Really.  Look it up)  but I'd like a more travel friendly option.  With the addition of this line, and this baby in particular...

I think I may have found a solution. 

It's leather and sleek (which makes it perfect for what I want) and comes with all sorts of useful plannerphrenalia and pages.  It's reasonably priced ($72) which is very refreshing.   I'm not sure of the ring size but asked the question, so that info is coming quick as a bunny...

The inserts are Tomoe River paper which I've wanted to try forever because it's thin, smooth and made to allow ink to sit on the surface not be absorbed. So bleed through is minimized if not eradicated off the face of the Earth and I admire that in a paper....

And look!

Inserts are undated, compatible with Filofax hole spacing and Saturday and Sunday are the same size as all the other days.  Halle-blissful-lujah!

One more picture...

If you're a pocket sized kinda person they even have a smartphone insert.  This I love in a drawing hearts with our initials kind of way...

I'd planned to do a more 'what's working for me' post but I got a little side-tracked over my new leathery fianceĆ© .   That one will be coming soon.   It's nice to see things that are new but I really find value in things that work over time like my grey pilot juice pen.  I use that pen every single day and just  noticed they have a 0.7 so...  that one will be arriving soon

As to this planner... Hopefully,  I'll have one within the next few months but will have to check my 'New Planner Change Jar' and see how I'm progressing with that...   With any luck all the stray nickles and dimes are enough to net me one of these (and of course, I'll review it) soon.  But like I said in my Goose Poop post waiting is good...  Especially if it's something worth waiting for... and I kinda think this is.


Handheld obsessive compulsive nirvana

I participated in an Ambassador Program on behalf of Mom Central Consulting (#MC) for Brother P-touch. I received a product sample to facilitate my review and promotional item as a thank you for participating. This is a #sponsored post. 

I'm starting a series about my favorite things from 2013, beginning with the Brother P-touch PT-H100 Label Maker.  As noted above I received this item to review but I wish I had bought it myself ages ago.  It's very reasonably priced (around $34.99) and widely available.  To celebrate their 25th Anniversary (#Ptouch25) , Brother is running special promotions and deals at select retail locations. Look for special 25th Anniversary deals at  office superstores near you.

brother p touch

I've had several months to work with it and,oh! Perfect labels,  where have you been all my life? And is is the perfect accompaniment to my Filofax.   I've always disliked my handwritten tabs and flags but now they are obsessive compulsive Nirvana.

Features abound in a small (and very reasonably priced) hand-held footprint:

  • One-touch keys – quickly access font sizes, styles, frames and patterns.
  •  Portable, handheld design - perfect for "on-the-go" use
  •  Cable labeling feature to organize your wires and cables 
  • Uses Laminated, "TZe" tapes up to 12mm wide – great for indoor or outdoor use
  •  Easy-access memory, store up to 9 "Favorite" labels 
  • 12 Deco Mode patterns, plus 9 Auto Design formats Print 
  • 1 or 2 lines of text 
  • Label faster using one of the decorative, pre-formatted label designs 
  • Split-back labels for easy peel and stick 
  • Operates on 6 x "AAA" batteries (not included)

I've labeled cables, power cords, gift tags, storage bins, files.... It is the perfect antidote for similar (but not identical items -  Think: Power cords)  that always ends up in a jumble of What the Hay?  I used it to label repackaged bulk food (with prep directions), snacks stored in single serving portions, freezer meals for late-comers to dinner, items in TSA-Approved containers for travel, and my banister (to remind the world that coats do not go here...


The new Brother P-touch PT-H100 handheld label maker features four-one touch buttons for quick access to font sizes, symbols, frames and patterns to inspire creative labeling. With its compact, handheld design the PT-H100 is an easy-to-use portable tool that can help organize a variety of spaces, whether in an office or away from your desk. Battery powered, so you can take it virtually anywhere.

 It includes a number of convenient and time-saving features including one-touch keys, an array of pre-formatted label designs as well as a cable labeling feature – to help quickly organize cables and wires.

 Create laminated labels that are durable enough for indoor or outdoor applications and can withstand the elements, including rain, freezing temperatures and dishwasher heat, making them a great alternative to the traditional tape-and-marker combinations. 

There are tons of positives and it's very cost effective.   The P Touch came with tape for black letters on white tape and immediately I purchased the clear tape (black letters).  Unless I'm labeling on a background that is busy or dark, this is my go-to choice.  But there are a lot of label color choices and I love that.  I'm itching to try the white on lime (or berry.)

Part of the reason I love paper planning is how the pages look. Superficial I know...

The only negatives (and these are pretty minor considering how helpful it is)  aren't dealbreakers:

1.  It isn't rechargeable (or even have an optional power cord). It takes 6 AAA batteries and depending on how much you label that can get expensive. The first month I had it there was so much to label and when through 6 in about a month but have had the second set in for the last two so how long it lasts depends on your use. But it does have an automatic shut off which mitigates that a bit.   

2.  I love the icons you can automatically create but many are too small.   It would be nice to label Ventura's pet things with just the dog icon but it's difficult to see with just a quick scan.  

I use mine a lot and the two negatives are minor.  It's one of those useful items you wonder how you got along without and never want to be without one again.  


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Project 365 #1 and why it fits with my Filofax

With everyone's help I've decided to do the Project 365 using the general topic of creativity.   It will  be primarily artwork but it can be anything I feel is a creative expression.

The plan is to do as much as I can in my Filofax pages and  Midori Traveler's Notebook because that is working well for me and I don't want to mess with success.    I've really enjoyed doing the tiny watercolors on  monthly insert days.  The paintings are less then an inch square so they relatively quick to do but I still feel like I've accomplished something.

And since accomplishing things is what having a Filofax is about for me, this works on multiple levels...

BeFunky Orton on iPhone

My intention isn't to make my Filofax an art journal but to make it reflect me in a more personal way. Going back through my past pages, seeing where I am in my art journey is as important as anything else I track.  It's part of me, who I am, and an improvement over just seeing my life reflected in collection of doctor's appointments and paydays.

BeFunky Crop on iPhone

This ticks an important box in my life.

I just ordered the Qimmis inserts to see if they hold up to the watercolors a bit better. As soon as I get them I'll report back. ( As well as do a general review on them.)

There are several things I do as creative outlets that I might include, like felted or crocheted items.  I love felting stuff.   These are a pair of fingerless gloves I made from an old sweater.

recycled sweater project, fingerless gloves

With the crazy cold weather lately, these have been great.  And I'm always happy to find something to do with my vintage button hoard.   

But I expect most will be artwork done in my Midori Traveler's Notebook.  I am so glad to have a purpose for it, it's sort of sat around for quite some time.   The sketch paper insert is only pretty good for watercolor, it's not holding up quite as well as I hoped.   I'm going to order this from jetpens, try it out and glue the paintings into the Midori.  I think that might be a better way...

I've been doing artwork in it since last month and have been happy with my improvement and happy to have accomplishments to look back over.

midor travelers notebook art

I'm not sure where I'll put the pictures (besides my instagram).   I'm going to post here as well, at least initially, and Facebook.    I'd like to share the project because that's kind of the point but I don't want to annoy anyone with the artwork.   I know that's not why most people visit my blog...

Project 365 Day 1

project 356 #1

Watercolor pencil drawing of my Filofax supply caddy to practice challenging perspective and images with multiple parts.


Monday, January 13, 2014

A crown roast of frankfurters

The only thing I did consistently all last year was highlight the days as they went by in my Filofax...

good bye 2013

It's really bothering me and clearly there is a heavy dose of sloth DNA mixed with the human stuff...    I'm never going to be a high energy person but come on...  My only claim to 2013 fame is using a highlighter?

I'd really like to find something I can look at and feel proud about next January but I need to recognize the limits of my time, effort, and patience.  

Along those lines; has anyone ever done the 365 project?  A year in photos but not necessarily about the photography itself?   There are as many themes as there are people doing it so I can pick whatever jazzes me.

My thoughts on topics I might be able to maintain are:

1.   Cheap or free vintage button pictures, I have a lot of them.

freecycle button SCORE!

Bags full...

I love them but don't really do anything with them (beyond the obvious hoarding thing).  A lot of people seem to like them as well....

2. Tiny water color paintings in my Filofax...

BeFunky Orton on iPhone

I'm not sure I can do one a day but I'd like to try.   And the great thing about doing artwork is (theoretically) my ability to do it should improve over a year and at some point I won't be embarrassed to post them.

3. Easy, cost effective recipes...

Pantry chicken recipe

Like  the sticky chicken recipe used to make these golden delicious wonders...

Recipes that are either very easy, have few ingredients, or are inexpensive....   Doing this daily might be a stretch too but I make something everyday pretty much, we rarely go to restaurants. This might be doable.

4.  Items I've gotten either for free or very little money...


Like this entire record collection from a garage sale...

The case alone is way cool but the records are pretty fab as well...  Check out a few:




See what I mean?

This topic is likely to be heavily slanted towards the vintage category but it would be a mix of new and old.

5.   A vintage ad or other image...


Like this old weight watchers recipe

Hot dogs recipes are always especially unfortunate, which makes them perfect.   

So what do you guys think about this?   Are any of these appealing or are these others that come to mind?

Help, suggestions, and thoughts appreciated....  I'd like to feel like I moved forward this year, even if it involves a crown roast of frankfurters....


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Saving beaucoup money with my Filofax

I don't post about my pocket Rio often because it's just been chugging along as my wallet with no changes for quite some time.  But recently I've been using it as a price book and it makes a great one. Because it's my wallet, it's always with me, and because it's a Filofax I can keep all the information I need in a neat, orderly and small package... (Although a personal size Filofax wallet might even be better for this because the pages are bigger.)

A price book is a very simple concept with one purpose; allowing you buy whatever you buy consistently at the lowest price by tracking sales. From everything I've read store sale cycles run about every six weeks but you need to track it to be sure.   When you know which store has the lowest price on an item and how often it goes on sale you can save a lot of money by buying enough of that item to hold you over to the next sale period.

BeFunky Orton on iPhone

Each page in my Rio tracks one category or product.  I write down the week number, store, brand, sale price, ounces in the package and price per ounce.  These two pages are pasta and frozen meals but they are just an example.  I also have produce, dairy, coffee, chicken, beef, butter and oils, sweets...etc.  Whatever I buy on a regular basis gets it's own page.

It takes a little time (and effort) to get to the rock bottom price, and you'll need to go through two cycles, at least, to be sure, but once you know the schedule you can buy what you're going to buy anyway at the best possible price.  

A good example happened this week; I use flavored coffee creamer every day.  One store was selling a 16 ounce container for $3.09, another was selling the same thing for $1.39.    The $1.70 difference won't break most people's banks but it's more then just $1.70 when you consider I use a few every week.  When you add in all the things I've not got the best price for - That's where the difference comes in.  Over the course of a year these price differences add up significantly.  

No doubt, it's easier to make a list and just go shopping.  But getting everything at one store means I'm at the mercy of the prices that week and if I'm out of an item I'm really stuck.  I've done the best I can with that and it's just not working so I'm using my Filofax to shop smarter.   

I've been flirting with the idea of a price book since the '90's after coming across several books by Amy Dacyczyn.  Her three books have since been made into a compilation called The Complete Tightwad Gazette.   I highly suggest getting a copy ( many libraries have it) and I've had mine for probably a decade.  I'm always pulling it out to remind myself what's possible...

Many of her ideas are pretty radical but her success at living within her means, and living well, can't be denied. I'm not about to do calculations on how much it costs to dry a load of laundry (when you can just hang it on a line) because I live in an area where line drying would get me fined by the housing association...   But it's her attention to all the little (recycling aluminum foil, for example) details that netted her, her amazing successes.   

While I may not do some of the things she's done - dumpster diving, for one - reading about these things stretches my reality a bit. You couldn't pay me to eat something with a past good expiration date but I now shop at thrift shops for clothes, kitchenware, and furniture - and have saved a lot of money doing it.      The book expanded my world a bit and showed me buying new doesn't always make sense...  I doubt I'd have bought a vintage bedroom set on etsy without reading that book and it's fabulous furniture! 


 I bought it from ModernMidCenturyFurn, an etsy seller, at a cost of less then $500 for the whole thing.   I shopped new, one piece would have cost me more then that...

A price book makes sense in this economy and a Filofax is the perfect vehicle for it...  Truth is, I spend a lot of money on my Filofaxes so it's nice that it can repay the favor and save me a little!

*Note:  There are price book smartphone apps that are great.  I had one that figured out the calculations painlessly but I found I didn't use it, I guess I'm a paper girl through and through.   I find using blank pages easier but if you google 'pricebook printables' there are options.


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