Category: Papers, Notebooks, and Journals

TN’S and Tabs

Sign of the Tines Traveler's notebook

TN’s are great if you’re an ADD- prone planner person with multiple projects!

TABS_1 FOR Traveler's Notebooks

Different sections for each project. Now tabbed!

They’re already divided into separate little notebooks, so you’d think it would be easy to find the exact notebook you’re looking for. However, you can save one or two seconds if you didn’t have to flip through every single notebook and hey, time is precious. That and I think some of the creative ways people use tabs is really cute.

Still on my Jakarta trip, I happened across these small Bantex divider tabs at a small stationery store in Pondok Indah Mall . The tabs are simply colored cardstock with clear adhesive plastic e on the bottom. They work well enough for my needs- not cute, but functional.

Tabs for Traveler's Notebooks

Bantex divider tabs

In this TN, my creative writing projects, each tab corresponds to a single project. Previous to owning a TN, I had to keep all projects in a single notebook and tried to use this Japanese method of marking page edges to differentiate each section, but it always got too chaotic for me. With this method, I keep each section separated and neatly marked.


Morning Rituals

Years ago, my mother would go to yoga every morning- that was her morning ritual. The class would start around seven and end around nine, plus the time spent showering after class (about an hour).  I would tag along with her and get dropped off at a coffee shop about ten minutes away.  There, over a cup of delicious Indonesian cappuccino (or two) and my iPod, I would draw.

Nothing serious, mind you: just cartoon and comic characters, silly dragon like monsters from my own head, fanciful weapons, that kind of thing, following the melody only I could hear. I would doodle with colored pencils (because I enjoyed the waxy feel of their lead). When I ran out of ideas, I would just trace over the previous sketches in another color, or with ink. For almost three hours, I let my mind wander unfettered.  Those were some of the best times of my life, putting me in what they call “the zone” of intense concentration and focus. It improved my creativity and just made me feel better, like a good workout.  So what if I couldn’t drag my fat butt into yoga? I was doing yoga with my mind, man!

When my mom stopped going to yoga, I lost my reason for tagging along with her, and that morning ritual of coffee-and-doodles fell to the wayside. I’ve tried to incorporate it into my daily schedule. Not every day is successful; I’ve also stopped for long periods of time because I became too busy, anxious, or bored with my art. I know the artsy part of my brain has become flabby and creaky from lack of use (well, so has my physical body, but let’s not go there).  I’d really like to get back into the habit of just sitting there and setting my mind free.

What’s your morning mind ritual?

Is it laying out your planner?

Jotting down your thoughts?

Or just closing your eyes for a second- trying to block out the noise and the traffic and the crowds, the social media notifications and the kids asking for their allowance- and just focus on the moment?







Venzi Soft Notebook

Venzi Soft notebook

Let’s take a quick break away from Traveler’s Notebooks and take a look at one of my favorite fountain pen friendly notebooks, the Venzi Soft.

Venzi Soft by Victoria's Journal

Venzi is part of a line of Victoria ‘s Journals and notebooks brand from Hong Kong. They do the fabulous Copelle line of notebooks as well, which would be one of daily carry notebooks if it wasn’t so monstrously thick!

The Venzi Soft retails at National Bookstore for about P200 (approximately US$ 4.5), so it’s one of the most competitively priced fp-friendly notebooks out there.

Venzi Soft by Victoria's Journal

I’ve tried them with fairly medium to wet pens and only the wettest pens bleed through. Brush pens work great, too!

venzi soft journal specificaltions

The paper is 70 gsm- quite thin, so it’s amazing that they hold up so well. Perhaps the smooth coating has something to do with it- although it’s not ultra-smooth, it certainly doesn’t have the rough pulpy feel that you get from most Korean notebooks (I’m not a fan of Korean notebooks, as they tend to be very bleed-y despite being so cute).

Venzi Soft by Victoria's Journal

Anyway, these come in both lined and unlined versions. They tend to go out of stock relatively quickly, so grab them while you can!

  • PAGES: 192
  • size: A5 (A6 also available)

This is a pink edition. Other color options with black covers include red, blue, and orange, or you can get green, red, blue-green, or black cover colors.

Venzi Soft by Victoria's Journal

I’ve hoarded a few years’ worth of these little beauties. I use them to make thumbnail sketches and quick notes with my fountain pens.Venzi Soft by Victoria's Journal

I hope some of you can check them out! If you use fountain pens, make sure you get the Venzi SOFT, not the Venzi FLEXY (which looks very similar) as the latter bleeds much more.

Sunday Leather Craft- Travelers Notebook 1

A5 Travelers Notebook by Sunday LEather Craft

See my second Sunday Leather Craft TN here.

So as I said in a previous post, I had a few stumbling blocks before finding planner peace in the form of two traveler’s notebooks from Sunday Leather Craft.

Someone on the Fountain Pen Philippines Forums had mentioned that SLC made great pen cases. I hopped on to their Facebook site and saw that they also made notebook covers, and from there a TN is only a few elastics away! I contacted them and asked if they were amenable to creating something according to my specs, and they agreed. I sent them a sketch with dimensions for an A5 TN, asking for semi stiff leather (from the samples they showed me).

Let’s start with the first.

The results were fantastic. The leather is a matte dark chocolate brown with beige stitching, with sealing elastic in blue stripes. The leather itself smells …well, adequately leathery.

A5 Travelers Notebook by Sunday LEather Craft


A5 Travelers Notebook by Sunday LEather Craft

A5 Travelers Notebook by Sunday LEather Craft

I had requested side flaps to store random notes. next time I’ll ask for a cardhold to be integrated into the flaps, but these function quite well.

Front and back storage flaps

Front and back storage flaps

It’s medium-soft, supple enough to bend easily but firm enough to keep its shape when unfilled. The stitching is very neat- you can see they know their leatherwork.

A5 Travelers Notebook by Sunday LEather Craft

A5 Travelers Notebook by Sunday LEather Craft

It fit my Muji A5 notebooks perfectly.

A5 Travelers Notebook by Sunday LEather Craft

A5 Travelers Notebook by Sunday LEather Craft

I had to trim down some of the papers I got from the US when making my own inserts though, as their dimensions didn’t exactly line up with the A5 size. Darn it! The reason why I work exclusively with A5 notebooks, aside from them being the perfect compromise between space and portability for me, is that quite simply, I’m lazy! I hate going to the trouble of trimming paper and measuring, etc. But that’s a story for another time…Anyway, I couldn’t be happier with my purchase.  Hurrah for Filipino artisans (and TN’s that you don’t have to pay international shipping for)!

While I’m not very familiar with more famous fauxdori makers from abroad, I’d wager that SLC can match most of them in terms of skill, if not in variety of raw material. I hope SLC continue to make great TN’s and that I can do a more complete feature on them someday.

Filipino Fauxdori- a look at the country’s traveler’s notebooks

Fauxdori Philippines

*EDIT: See the 2016 edition here! We’ve had some changes!*

Here’s a short  (hopefully growing) directory of Philippine-made traveler’s notebooks/ fauxdori. As a newbie collector and enthusiast, I’ve only gathered what I hope are a fraction of the craftspeople working on their fauxdori. Please feel free to let me know who I’ve missed. If you’re a local creator of inserts, TN’s, and accessories, let me know via tintinp (at) gmail dot com.

Note: All Photos used with permission. In cases where I was unable to secure the permission of the photo creator/ product owners, I left out photos and will only show the website.

If you’re on Facebook, feel free to join the Fauxdori Philippines group!





PRODUCTS: Leather traveler’s notebooks in a variety of sizes. There are three colors currently available: red, blue, and tan. They also make fountain pen friendly refills.


Photo provided by: 11_11handmadeph




PRODUCTS: Unique paper traveler’s notebooks by Airees printed  with her own painted designs. Very colorful and feminine; I believe the paper is of a sort that is treated to be pretty tough: organically-treated handmade paper from abaca made to have the strength of a thin leather but lightweight as paper.”  Sold in a variety of sizes.

Aireeescreates fauxdori/ traveler's notebook

Photo provided by: Aireescreates




PRODUCTS: The Kislap (A5) and mini Kislap (Field Notes) are leather fauxdori-inspired journals sold as sets with inserts and charms.  They also sell refills for the Kislap in lined, blank, and dot grid, as well as beautifully crafted leather journals in various designs.


The Alunsina Kislap. Photo provided by: Alunsina




PRODUCTS: Leather traveler’s notebooks in Standard and (soon) A6 size. A very basic design (no pockets or customizations) but in feel, I think it’s the closest to the original Midori TN- very firm leather, good craftsmanship. He’s been making them for years, even before their popularity really exploded, so I feel he’s  got the most experience. He is also a crafter and fashion illustrator, which carries over into his work.

BPMnotilla fauxdori traveler's notebooks



PRODUCTS:  Creators of the Macata, a pleather fauxdori . Cool name!  Cool colors!- black, bone, orange, and a few metallic, though they may be phasing those out soon. Also: adorable leather tassels! Sold in standard and passport size.

The Macata

The Macata. Photo provided by: CN Papercrafts


WEBSITE: [Under Construction] You can order their products using this form:

PRODUCTS: Vintage-style postcards, stationery, and notebook inserts on fountain pen friendly paper   (yay!). Currently their lineup also includes a 2016 fauxdori and ring planner insert in weekly and monthly formats. Love their lean, clean, and mean layouts!

FolklorePH's inserts

FolklorePH’s inserts. Photo provided by: Des Mendoza




PRODUCTS: Cute sewn cloth fauxdori (sewdori?) in a variety of prints and sizes. You can choose your design-mostly very colorful and sweet, very cute stuff. I’d like to get one but prefer muted colors, so I’ll be on the lookout!

GAVNSAV traverler's notebook

Gav and Sav’s Sewdori. Photo provided by: Gav and Sav.




PRODUCTS: Lovely craft notebooks and leather traveler’s notebooks in two very interesting designs: the Expedition and the Voyager, which I believe are both customizable. I’m hoping to add one of them to my collection soon. They’re very rugged-looking and remind me of Indiana Jones (the notebooks, not the makers- though that  would be cool too).

Edit: I take a look at their customized Expedition model.

Kraft Korner traveler's notebook

Kraft Korner. Photo provided by: Kraft Korner PH

Edit: I take a look at their customized Expedition model.



PRODUCTS:  Leather traveler’s notebooks in a variety of sizes. I’m not too familiar with them yet, but I hope to rectify this soon!


Kuwero. Photo provided by: Kuwero

Have a look at my first Kuwero ‘Lakbay’ fauxdori!




PRODUCTS:  Under the Notedori brand, Noted Journals PH makes the’ Notedori’ in a variety of colors including copper and silver. I love metallic colors, and these look pretty sturdy.

Noted Journals' Notedori

Noted Journals’ Notedori




Not a creator, but rather an importer of fine leather travelers notebooks and refills. They have a variety of sizes. Pengrafik also carries a variety of fine writing instruments, inks, and the much-admired Curnow mini journals/ TN refills, which feature fountain-pen-friendly papers, including Tomoe River! They come in Regular, A5, and Field Notes size. I have to give a special mention to Tomoe River paper ( they also sell loose sheets) because this is the paper used in the Hobonichi Planner. It’s amazingly thin but resilient!


Photo provided by: Pengrafik




PRODUCTS: Traveler’s notebooks (I believe they’re called ‘Fundori’) and ring binders that convey a sense of cuteness, lightness, and fun, in both leather and synthetic materials. The sheer variety of their materials, including printed leather, makes this a brand to watch.


Fun with Planners and Journals PH! Photo provided by: Planners and Journals




PRODUCTS: Colorful PVC and Textile “Shutterdoris”, currently sold in Standard, Traveler, and Passport. I particularly like the look of their patented journal, but we’ll have to wait and see if they offer an A5 size ( Edit: yes they do!)





PRODUCTS: Leather watch bands, bags, journal covers, and some of the most beautiful traveler’s notebooks this side of the Pacific. And they’ve only been at it a few weeks as of this writing.  Ask for something and they’ll customize it for you.

Sunday Leather Craft

Photo provided by: Sunday Leather Craft

Edit: I take a look at my first and second TN’s from Sunday Leather Craft!




PRODUCTS: The Quest Journal, a fauxdori in the regular Midori size, as well as refills. Viviamo! Inc., also makes different planners, both under their own brand and other companies. One of the former is the bestselling Belle du Jour Planner. I personally love their Focus Journal and its very clean and clear layout (to help you focus, I guess).


The Quest journal- thanks for the photo, Pat @!

Let me know if you come across any more, or have some favorites you want to share.




The Giving Journal by CBTL Giving Juornal

Hi folks! Liz Lanuzo of Project Vanity graciously lent me her Giving Journal for me to check out. I thought I’d share with you some shots of the cover and interior for you to make up your minds about whether to go for this yearly diary, the Starbucks Moleskine 2016, or Seattle’s Best diary. I hope you don’t go for all three- you might get diabetes from all those crazy frappe drinks they make you buy to get one of these!

Here goes:

The cover. It’s tan faux leather, very simple and clean design. Quite smooth and slick. I’m not sure it’s waterproof- water might stain it, so keep away from coffee.

The Giving Journal


There’s some info about CBTL. Next we have some background on The Giving Journal.  Apparently it’s working with the Real LIFE Foundation which has something to do with education.

This seems like a worthy endeavor although who knows what that really means? Do they get a portion of each Journal distributed or what??? I wish they’d tell us. I hope those street children are getting something out of this!

About the Giving Journal

About the Giving Journal and some social media stuff

Then we have a recommended user’s guide to the Journal, as well as a “Vision List” to help you list your various Goals for 2016. I kinda like this part, it seems useful for those January 1 resolutions that we always forget (or ignore) in a week.


Guide and Goals

Guide and Goals

Then there’s some self-empowering poetry. Moving on….

There’s a page about drawing your inspiration for the year. Again, I like that they encourage you to visualize your goals. You’re out of luck if all you can draw is a stick figure though. I guess you can write them down. But all in all, it’s a great idea to visualize your goals, desires, and inspiration.

Coffee drawings

Coffee drawings

Next, a page of your best 2016 moments of the month, and Travel Plans. I like the Flavorful Moments one better because in a way, it encourages you to be grateful for the joys of the year- and gratefulness leads to health, as they say.

As for Travel Plans…one can dream. Sigh.

Flavorful Moments and Travel Plans

Flavorful Moments and Travel Plans

Ah, a calendar! Finally, we get to the bones of the diary. Let’s not forget the coupons though. I seldom use them because I hate tearing things out of a planner, but if you drink CBTL enough to get a Journal, I suppose you will have lots of use for them.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

12-month Calendar and coupons

I love this! So much space to mark with washi tape and stickers and your plans, of course! You have one month spread over two pages.

One Month calendar dates

One Month calendar dates

Then you get one week over one page, and notes to elaborate on the facing page. Again, I like that the days of the week are dated. The Midori planner doesn’t have dated weeks. And I really really love grid layouts. Reminds me of the Hobonichi. You can also easily use it for Bullet Journaling.

One week

One week

There are both blank and grid pages at the back for final notes. Good to use these pages for important information like address and passwords (in code, preferably).

Finally, you get a pocket folder for receipts and ephemera and stickers. Stickers!!! I wish they included more, but at least they have them.

Back Pocket

Back Pocket

Stickers and backpocket

Stickers and backpocket

And there you have it! Here’s a final assessment:

The whole shebang

The whole shebang


  1. Very sturdy binding.
  2. Orange ribbon to hold it closed.
  3. Simplicity in style- besides the coupons and extra goals pages, the calendar pages themselves are clear, well marked, and well arranged.
  4. The paper is thick and can withstand fountain pens.
  5. Ribbon bookmarks.
  6. Cute stickers.


  1. The smooth cover feels like it will scratch easily and will be a fingerprint magnet. I wish they’d put some texture on it, like the Moleskine covers.
  2. Hardbound- this is a con for me because I like lighter journals, but for others this might actually be a Pro. I’d like a softbound journal so I can insert it into my fauxdori covers.
  3. It’s very…sepia. Which makes sense, since that’s the color of Coffee and Tea. If you don’t like brown or variations of it, there’s no other option.  EDIT: I think there are other colors for the covers, but I’ve no idea about the insides. Thanks for the info, Pat!

All in all, I think I prefer this journal to the Starbucks 2016 Moleskine- but then again I’m biased because I don’t like Moleskines! Thanks for reading!




Notebooks at the Maker's Market by Sign of the Tines


Cool Stationery-related finds at the Maker’s Market at Estancia this weekend (Nov. 28-29). Maker’s Market is a local rotating handicraft fair ( small but growing) and some local excellent artisans always make an appearance. Of course my first priority is stationery. Here were my personal highlights:

Planners and Journals

They make Planners and Journals, pretty much what it says on the tin! I’m not so much into ringbinders, but they had some lovely fauxdori in real leather, and some cool washi tape. I’m hoping they ramp up their A5 fauxdori production so I can finally get one.  20151127_130307  20151127_130315



I also picked up some pretty inserts from Sketchnotes, including a handpainted one! The paper is 120 gsm and semi-fountain-pen friendly ( a big thing for me, a fountain pen user).


Processed with VSCO with g3 preset

Processed with VSCO with p5 preset




The Fauxdori Fix

Two Traveler's notebooks at Sign of the Tines

I’ve torn through about four or five bags now- brands known for their lightness AND durability. The problem? Too many notebooks (and art supplies!).

I like  to have a notebook for every purpose:  rough warm-up sketches, finished ink drawings, random ideas, daily schedules, creative writing ( which in and of itself is divided into several projects), a journal, and of course, notes for this blog.

Since I love working in coffee shops, I would need to take my many notebooks, pens, pencils, and sharpeners on the go.  Hence, the death of my beloved bags.

This was my daily carry:


Well, I’m through with losing so much money on bags! I searched for methods to consolidate my notebooks: ring binders, switching to softbound notebooks only, using that Japanese page-marking hack, etc. Nothing worked until I settled on the Traveler’s Notebook (TN).

These notebooks, pioneered by the Japanese brand Midori, are simple leather notebooks strung with several elastics inside. Midori sells special thin pamphlets of varying papers to slot into the elastics. In an original Midori, one can insert up to four -6 of these pamphlets. So now, instead of toting God knows how many books of varying sizes, you can carry several thing notebooks in a relatively manageable format.

Unfortunately, the Midori either comes in a vertically-oriented size or a passport size , neither of which doesn’t really suit my writing style. I enjoy the A5 format    (about 8 x 6 inches), which is slightly wider.

After reading about other creators manufacturing notebooks similar to the Midori (mostly small handmade shops, but also sometimes mass-produced in China), I purchased one of the China-made leather A5 ones from a local retailer/importer (@crafts_unltdph on Instagram). It was… satisfactory. The leather couldn’t match the Midori’s famed stiffness and the handwork didn’t quite match, but it served the purpose. I filled it with Muji A5 grid notebooks (I LOVE these!) and some other handmade refills that I stapled together.



I was happy…for awhile. Then I turned to Etsy and Facebook, curious to find out more about non-Midori TN’s (aka ‘fauxdori). The sheer variety of sizes, materials, and styles soon got me salivating for more than the basic Midori prototype. I wanted more features! More bling! More colors! More everything.

I commissioned a local leatherworker (who shall remain unnamed, unless you pm me) to create an A5 TN. The results were horrible, and I ended up having to restring the damn thing and name it Monstrobo for its hideousness. This almost turned me off Philippine TN’s completely, but I’m glad I persisted in locating other craftspeople.



I contacted Sunday Leather Craft on Facebook, to create my first local TN’s in a specific configuration: Side pockets, 4 inner elastics, and a brown supple leather with border stitching. The results were amazing, and I fell in love with their work.





I commissioned a second one, this one with slots for pens and in a different beige /naked leather color, inspired by ones I’d seen scanning the net. Still loved it. This one will be my art journal, and I’ve repurposed my PVC folder into a brushpen holder.







So now I own three fauxdori (and Monstrobo).

Have I solved the notebook problem? Almost, but not quite. Now I want even MORE fauxdori!