News,The Ampad Gold Fibre Retro Writing Pad, and the Papermate Precision…


And, we’re back! At least for a while… As you guys know, I took a bit of a sabbatical, and also let the domain die. This was partially due to some disinterest on my part, but also because I didn’t want to pay the $20 per year domain name and mapping fee from WordPress. So, I purchased the domain of from my own  webhost and plan on using it instead. So, as I said, we’re back!

Up for review today is the Gold Fibre Retro Writing Pad from Ampad. This 5 x 8 pad is spiral bound at the top and contains 80 pages of perforated, 20 lb., medium ruled, ivory vintage paper. The design harkens back to the steno pads from several decades ago, and to be honest, it’s actually very aesthetically pleasing. The brown vinyl-coated cover is much sturdier than that of regular notebooks, and feels like it would hold up to much more stress.

As for the quality of the paper, it’s decent. The 20 lb. is not quite heavy enough for my liking, since all of my fountain pens either bled through or feathered. It also didn’t handle the rollerball I had with me very well. However, it’s excellent for gel pens, ballpoints, and pencils. The gel pens were especially smooth on this paper, seeming to roll ink onto the paper of their own volition with no scratchiness at all.

Next up, we have the Papermate Precision 0.5mm Mechanical Pencil. This pencil is interesting in that it’s “Precision engineered to enhance writing quality”, and I must admit that it somewhat lives up to its claim.

This pencil features a grey and white color scheme with a comfortable rubber grip. The 4mm metal sleeve gives you extra room in order to draw templates or trace around the edges of a stencil easily. The round body flattens out toward the plunger end, and I must admit, it’s also very pleasing to the eye. Easy on the hands, easy on the eyes… What’s not to like?


Pencils from


Up for a look today are several items I received in a sampler pack from Andy at is the web store of the California Cedar Products Company, which produces well-known brands such as Palomino, Generals, and Kum. Thanks to Andy’s generosity, I have a Spangle “Mini Jumbo”, Forest Choice, Prospector HB, Golden Bear Triangular HB, Palomino HB, and a Palomino Blackwing to try out today!

First off, we have the very blue Spangle “Mini Jumbo”. It’s a beginner’s pencil, manufactured specifically for little hands with its thick body and lead. It is larger than the normal sized pencil sharpener (I had to sharpen it with a razor knife which happened to be laying beside me on my leather table), but after sharpening wrote very well (although it did smear a bit).

Secondly, we have the ForestChoice pencil. Made from FSC-certified Incense cedar with a natural finish, which sharpens beautifully and smells amazing (unless, of course, you’re allergic to real cedar like my mother-in-law-to-be, which sucks, lol), this pencil is sure to a favorite. The #2 HB lead writes amazing well, with very little smearing.

Next up, we have the Prospector, CalCedar’s cheapest pencil. At less than $.15 each ($.13 to be exact), these pencils offer excellent quality while not breaking your budget. These green coated pencils (which also come in green triangular form and a natural finish) sharpen well and write very smoothly, especially for a budget pencil.

Fourthly, we have the Golden Bear. CalCedar claims this pencil to be “equivalent to, perhaps, a Dixon Ticonderoga”, and I can definitely agree! With a beautiful orange finish with gold foil lettering, this triangular pencil really stands out in a crowd. While the sample I was sent is triangular, it’s also available in regular orange and regular blue forms.

Next, is the Palomino HB. Termed “the pencil that started it all” by CalCedar, this pencil is definitely a piece of work. With a glossy, lacquered, Incense cedar barrel surrounding a deliciously smooth graphite core, you can expect a beautiful, dark line with very little effort and a tip that stays sharp for longer than the average pencil.

Lastly, we have the crème de la crème, the recreation of a pencil long sought after by collectors and enthusiasts alike, the Palomino Blackwing! Based on the original design of the Eberhard-Faber Blackwing 602, the Palomino Blackwing’s frictionless, buttery lead lays down a dost, smooth, dark line. The unique eraser ferrule and eraser allow you to extend it for longer use, and the matte black body with gold accents makes this an instant conversation piece. Want to add prestige to even the most mundane Post-it? Grab a Blackwing. Want to add class to a quick note to a friend? Grab a Blackwing. Got the picture yet? Get some Blackwings! They truly are beautiful pencils (albeit a little costly), but they are definitely worth the price!

Pencil Test Sheet

Note: I am not an employee nor and I am in any way affiliated with or the California Cedar Products Company. This review is in no way affected by the fact that this item was a free sample from or the California Cedar Products Company.

Daycraft Cantoon Journal and Signature Sketchbook


So, up for review today, we have two more notebooks from Daycraft. First off, we have their Cantoon Journal. This small cardboard cover journal has a small cartoon, which Daycraft claims is a mnemonic (or memory aid). Unfortunately, I can’t read Chinese, and thus have absolutely no clue as to what it says. The notebook is 4.13″ wide x 7.09″ high and is made completely from “Satogami” paper (a google search seemed to reveal that this is a high-quality paper used for origami as well as other “craft” purposes). The cover is 190 gsm while the 100 pages are 116 gsm, which is a very high gsm for a small journal (compared to the Quo Vadis/Exacompta/Rhodia 80/90 gsm). The paper readily accepted almost all the fountain pen inks I had, although the Noodler’s Bulletproof Lexington Grey feather something awful.

There is one thing a bit deceptive about this journal. When I first looked at it, I was taken in by the “unique” binding that was used. The front and back covers looked to be “zig-zag” sown together, but on closer inspection, the thread was merely decoration, since the books is perfect-bound. However, the book does, with a little prompting, lay open relatively flat.

The Cantoon Journal is an interesting little quad journal that, if not for the character on the front/mnemonic (which I have no clue what it means), I would carry it around with me.

Next up, we have the Daycraft Signature Sketchbook. This interesting little sketchbook (about 5-3/4″ x 4-1/4″) features a plum-colored “foam” cover glued to the cardstock cover. The “foam” is spongy and actually pleasant to the touch, and I must admit that it’s a unique notebook in the way it feels in your hand. The only branding present is a small Daycraft stamp embossed on the back in the bottom-left corner. The paper is cream-colored 100 gsm and is acid-free and has no colored edges. There’s also a small ribbon that you can use to mark your pages. The main problem I have with this sketchbook (other than the color… A guy with a purple sketchbook… Yeah…) is the fact that this book doesn’t lay flat, which in my opinion is a must for a sketchbook. As always, the Sharpies bled through the page, but most other pens didn’t have as much of an effect, although there was a bit of show through (which probably wouldn’t happen if you sketch with a pencil, rather than a pen). All in all, a neat little sketchbook.

So, there you have two great little notebook from Daycraft! Thanks so much to Daycraft for sending me the samples, and my apologies for how long it took me to get around to reviewing them!

Note: I am not an employee nor and I am in any way affiliated with Daycraft or Tai Shing Diary. This review and my opinions of this product is in no way affected by the fact that this item was a free sample from Daycraft.

Sanford Sharpie Caribbean Colors – Stingray, Surf, Flamingo, Lime Daiquiri, and Coconut


Sanford Sharpie Caribbean Colors – Stingray, Surf, Flamingo, Lime Daiquiri, and Coconut

Some more random Sharpie colors! Saw these at OfficeMax the other day, and since I had $20 of free stuff to pick out (thanks to their new rewards program) I grabbed these up. I am kind of curious, is Sharpie going to continue coming out with these seasonally, or are these just two batches that they decided to randomly add to their line?

I must admit, that I love a couple of the colors in this set… While you can’t see it very well in the photos, the Surf color is a very vibrant blue, and the Coconut is a creamy light brown (not really coconut colored, per se, but still a beautiful color none-the-less). The Flamingo is a little off in my opinion. It looks more orange than pink, but YMMV. The Lime Daiquiri was very bright. At first, it looked almost neon, but then it calmed down after it dried on the paper. Another beautiful set of colors from Sanford Sharpie!

Exacompta Nostalgie Journal (Exacompta Forum Journal)


Exacompta Nostalgie Journal (Exacompta Forum Journal)

Thanks to the benevolent kindness of Karen of Exaclair, I am now the proud owner of several Exacompta products! And as such, I plan on reviewing them all over the next several weeks… The first up is the “Celtic” Nostalgie Journal.

This beautiful journal from Exacompta is actually a journal cover which can be refilled with any of the journals/sketch journals from the “Basics” series. I must admit, I was drawn to this one because of my heritage and love of Celtic music. The Celtic Nostalgie features a beautiful pattern of Celtic knots as well as a Celtic font on the cover and spine. While the cover is not true leather, it does have a leather-like texture and the embossing holds beautifully and is very vivid and crisp. The cover is saddle-stitched with a light thread which beautifully offsets the tan and tawny color scheme.

While the cover is beautiful, the main focus of this review is yet to come… Inside this beautifully wrapped package is an Exacompta Basics Forum Journal. Featuring 64g (or 80g, their website is a little unclear on that matter. While their catalog states that they are 64g, their paper chart states that they have 80g paper. As for myself, based upon the ink test, I think it might be closer to the 80g, since the fountain pen ink almost did not bleed at all) white satin finish paper in a 365 page daily undated format.

Each page features a short line for each hour from eight a.m. to seven p.m. in two boxes at the top left and right of the page as well as three center lines, one for the month, day, and year respectively. All the printing on the page is done in a pale dark green ink, which contrasts the satin white pages very well. Each page also has the bottom corner perforated so that it can be removed. This handy system allows you to quickly flip to the next un-written page.

Also included in the Forum notebooks are a plethora of charts and information, including weights and measurements, conversion tables, area codes for frequently called cities and countries, time zones, a travel and expense record, as well as a small address book.

Edit: Thanks to John M., who commented on this post, I remembered one of the features that I completely neglected to discuss… I even took pictures to show this feature and posted them, but apparently just forgot to talk about it. The Forum Journal lays flat… “What’s so great about that,” you may ask, and in reply I say that it is one of the best features I’ve ever seen in a notebook. As a left handed person, it is very hard to find a notebook that is comfortable to use due to the fact that my hand either is raised up on the spine (in sown/bound notebooks) or on the binding in spiral notebooks. Due to this, it’s sometime uncomfortable for me to write. The Forum Journals lie extremely flat, allowing my hand to flow across the page, with none of the discomfort of a normal journal!

All-in-all, a beautiful little notebook, the Exacompta Nostalgie Celtic Notebook is truly an excellent offering from Execlair. Check out some more photos below (Note: Some of them are rather large hi-res photos/scans)…

Before I close out this post, I want to once again thank Karen from Execlair who was awesome in sending me such a wonderful batch of products! I look forward to trying out and reviewing the other products she sent me in the near future. Also, feel free to comment on the new “photo gallery” feature in this post… Does it make things look more clean? More crowded?

Note: I am not an employee nor and I am in any way affiliated with Execlair or Exacompta. This review is in no way affected by the fact that this item was a free sample from Execlair.

Koh-I-Noor Progresso Woodless Colored Pencils


Koh-I-Noor Progresso Woodless Colored Pencils

I know, I know… This wasn’t on my list of things that I said I was going to review, but I actually have this huge backlog of stuff that I never got around to, so… Yeah… Anyhoo, before you we have the Koh-I-Noor  Hardtmuth  Progresso Woodless Colored Pencils. Woodless you say? Yes, tell me more…

 The Progresso Woodless Pencils feature a graphite core which is coated in what I’m assuming is paint, which represents the pencil color. These came packaged in a nice little carton of twenty-four, and I grabbed them at Michael’s a while back with one of my 40% off coupons.

As I mentioned before, when you sharpen these, there truly is no wood residue… Period… In fact, I usually even save the sharpenings to use as blender/shader (applied by taking a pinch in between my fingers and carefully rubbing into the area I’m working on) since it’s pure color, other than the slight coat of paint which easily goes away after you’re finished blending. I actually enjoy using these, although the slick paint can be a little slippery if your hands sweat at all.

Now, a little bit of info about the following pictures. I only took a picture of one pencil (my favorite color, btw, and one of the best pencils in the bunch) in order to show the label and the texture of the graphite tip. Also attached are photos of my ink/lead catalog that I just started in order to keep track of the different colors of ink, lead, and other mediums I’ve experienced. The numbers beside the color names refer to the number stamped on the corresponding pencil by Koh-I-Noor…

“Chinese Still Life” – Five Minute Doodle while waiting for my lunch… 🙂

Field Notes Brand Pencils and Notebooks…


I must admit that there is no greater pleasure than to open the mailbox and be greeted by something that you’ve ordered and have been anxiously awaiting… It’s almost like Christmas! 🙂 But anyway, back to our topic for today… The other day, I got an e-mail from Field Notes (I’m on their mailing list, even though I’ve never before purchased any of their products) telling me about this awesome deal for that day. For one day only, if you bought anything, at any price, in any quantity from Field Notes or any of their partners, they were going to throw in a free three-pack of their pocket notebooks. So, I quickly ordered myself a package of their pencils and sat down to wait for my package to arrive…  

Several days later, I arrived home and discovered, that I had a plain brown cardboard envelope in my mailbox! On the back lip, right before I opened it, I noticed there was some stamped writing… I quickly tore open the packaging, and found to my delight, not only the pencils I ordered and three promised notebooks, but also a 1 inch button, Coudal sticker, and an “Item No. ‘FN-09’, General-Purpose Band of Rubber”. I had to leave the house very soon after opening this envelope full of joy, so I quickly packed it all back up and placed it in my backpack in order to review it in the next several days. So we come now to the present…  

Enclosed were three Field Notes Brand 3-1/2″ wide x 5-1/2″ tall, 48 page, three staple saddle-stitch bound memo books, one each of plain, graph, and ruled. Each notebook features a thin cardboard cover with the Field Notes logo and information printed in dark black ink. One of the most awesome things about these little notebooks is that they are Made in the USA (something which is becoming more rare with each passing day).  

Note the doodle on the first page of the plain book... Had to test out the paper a little.


 The paper in these books is white and smooth (with sepia lines on the graph and ruled versions) and even stood up relatively well to my sepia Sakura Pigma markers (just a little bit of bleedthrough). Plus on the inside front and back covers are printed spaces for you to put in some information about your notebooks as well as the history of Field Notes… All-in-all, an awesome quality product!      

Now, on to the pencils (the “real reason” for my Field Notes order 😉 )… Field Notes pencils have their information printed right on them:      

These awesome cedar pencils sharpen extremely smoothly (not a splinter to be found) and write like a dream… The lead is a tad bit soft for me, but that’s something I could easily deal with in such an excellent pencil. Plus the smell… 🙂      

I can easily see my self ordering more of these fine products in the future, and I heartily recommend them to you!      

By the way, I’m sure you might be wondering who this little feller’ is:      


While known to many as Mr. Kilroy, I’ve doodled him for years on high school and college chalkboard to different daily doodles. So, don’t be surprised is he happens to show his face around Pens’n’Paper more often…

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