July 02, 2013

Our Blog has Moved!

We are excited to announce that we have moved the Writer’s Bloc Blog over to http://reviews.shopwritersbloc.com/ 

We are looking forward to continuing the paper, pen and ink reviews, news, tips and instructions over on the new Word Press blog. Please come and visit us there!

The content of the old blog will remain in the same place if you need it. Thanks and have a great day!

June 05, 2013

Quo Vadis Scholar #55 Academic Planner Review

Quo Vadis Scholar #55 Academic Planner is a weekly, desk-sized agenda designed for both teachers and students alike. It has an open format that makes it easy to track when your assignments and papers are due, and keeps test dates and other activities organized. It is an academic planner which means it starts with the month of August and ends with the month of July of the following year. It’s a welcome addition to Writer’s Bloc this season. What features make it a useful organizing tool?

The Quo Vadis Scholar begins with a page for personal information including such details as name, address, email and important medical information. Across from this page is one ruled page for notes. Then comes a 2-page Monday through Saturday Time Schedule with half hour increments starting at 8:00am and ending at 9:00pm (it assumes that you are taking Sundays off). It seems that it would be a good idea to fill this in with pencil since schedules tend to change over time. The lines from Noon to 2:00pm are printed with grey to help you keep track of when your lunch break might occur in relation to the rest of the day.

There are two annual planning pages that cover one school year – starting with July of one year to the end of June in the following year. Each month has one column with a box for priorities on the top, and small spaces beneath for each day of the month. These pages allow you to see a general outline of your yearly plans at a glance.

The Scholar has an “open format.” In other words, each day of the weekly plan is not broken down into hourly increments, rather, each day has a space with several lines for freestyle planning in whatever format you want. It has one week on two pages: the top of the left page starts with Monday and the bottom of the right page ends with Sunday. Underneath each weekday date is a small area for noting daily priorities. Other details included in the weekly plan are the month number, the week of the year number, the day of the year number, lunar cycles and holidays.

A set of world maps in grey tones follows the end of the weekly plans. Map pages include: North America, Canada, USA, South America, Australia & New Zealand, Europe, Asia and Africa.

The Scholar includes a slim, removable address book that slides easily into one of the pockets of planner cover along with the planner (not included with the Spiral or Basic covers). This gives you the option to reuse the same address book the following year without having to recopy all of your notes

If you like to write with fountain pens the Scholar is a good choice since most versions of this planner contain 90g white Clairefontaine paper (except for the Basic and Equology covers which contain 89g recycled paper). Besides being super-smooth to write on, this paper reduces ink feathering and bleed through, is acid-free, pH neutral and is PEFC certified. For a list of other fountain pen friendly planners you can take a look at our list under the blog post “Fountain Pen Friendly Planners.”

The binding is sewn to keep pages from falling out and the lower corner of each page has a tear-off perforation you can use to help you find your place. The page size of this planner is approximately 6 1/4” x 9 3/8”. The Quo Vadis Scholar academic agenda can be purchased with a refillable cover that’s available in different colors and materials such as Texas Vinyl, Club, Soho, Equology and Nappa Leather. If you don’t want a refillable cover you can get the Scholar with a Noir Spiral cover or a Basic cover. (The equivalent Quo Vadis calendar year planner beginning with January and ending with December is the Hebdo #56.)

What’s your favorite academic planning diary and academic planner format?

May 22, 2013

Undated Planners featuring Choo Choo Diary Season V

Undated planners offer flexibility and features for a variety of planning needs. Need to begin your schedule of plans in a month other than January? Lost your planner in the middle of the year? Need to keep a schedule only intermittently? Are you a student? Love to doodle? Want to write in a super cute diary? An undated planner might be just what you need!

Jetoy Design and 7321 Story both make adorable storybook-like undated planners with a similar general format. Besides the yearly, monthly and weekly plans that the Choo Choo Diary and Le Petit Prince Planner include, Alice's Diary also includes a page for each daily plan. This post will focus on Jetoy’s Choo Choo Diary Season V since I am partial to the over-the-top cuteness of Choo Choo Cat and friends. The plethora of illustrations ranges from storybook to ridiculous to whimsical and they are sure to bring a smile to each day.

The Choo Choo undated planner starts out with a 2-page yearly plan from January through December with a small space for 31 days each month. It is designed to give you a general yearly overview of your future plans.

A couple of illustrated pages separates each month from another. There is no specific purpose for these pages other than to look cute and perhaps to help you keep each month separate.

Each month begins with a generic calendar page with 5-weeks of Sunday through Monday. Each day of the monthly calendar has a space in the upper left to write in the date. The upper right corner of these 2 pages has the numbers 1 to 12 where you can circle the number of “this month.”

Following the monthly plan there are 5 weeks of Monday to Sunday plus Memo weekly plans. The date can be written at the top beside each day of the week, and the month number can be circled using the numbers 1 to 12 printed in the upper right corner.

The Choo Choo Diary does not include a specific daily plan, however after the monthly and weekly schedulers it does have 160 wonderfully illustrated cat-themed pages for notes. There are too many different adorable pictures to mention so I’ll just give you four samples below.







This Choo Choo Diary includes a decorated 9.5” x 19.5” yearly planner poster that you could hang on the wall above your desk and numbered stickers that you can use as tabs in your planner where ever you choose. There is a page for personal information in the very back and the pink and gray endsheets are decorated with various fun loving cats.

There is no specific information on the paper inside this diary. I would venture to guess that it has a weight of maybe 80 or 90g. Ballpoint or gel pens would be ideal for use with the Choo Choo Diary. The binding is stitched to keep the pages from falling out and you can bend the flexible spine backwards to keep the planner open to a certain page. The cover is semi-flexible and has a clear plastic slip cover with a pen loop that can accommodate a decently sized pen.

Have you had the occasion to use an undated planner? What type of undated planner is your favorite? If you’d like to try one check out the undated planners over at Writer’s Bloc.

Contest Winner!

The winner of the contest posted on May 8, 2013 for the $25.00 Writer’s Bloc gift certificate is Megan (entry comment #3). Congratulations Megan! Thanks to all who participated!

May 08, 2013

Graduation Gifts 2013

The 2013 school year has almost come to a close for many happy, relieved and proud Graduates. What will you get your Grad to celebrate their accomplishments? We’re happy to share a few of our ideas.

1) The 5 Book

The 5 Book has got to be one of the ultimate gifts for any Graduate. As Grads enter college or the work force they face the challenge of setting goals and making many decisions. What can help? The 5 Book was designed to stimulate thinking and direct your Grad to goals they can use to map out the next five years of their life. Really, I think just about every one of us could use this book.

(Aurora Style Fountain Pen in the color Aquamarine)

2) A Classy Pen

A classy pen can last a lifetime and then be passed on to a future generation of Graduates. Even in a world full of technology a fantastic pen is a gift that is really appreciated. Chances are your Grad has not yet experienced the pleasure of writing with a fountain pen. The sleek modern design of the Aurora Style fountain pen was created with young professionals in mind. Fill it with some Aurora fountain pen cartridges in a deep black ink and impress a hipster!

(Delta Vintage Rollerball Pen in the color Deep Ocean)

If you feel that a fountain pen is a little too old-fashioned for your Grad, a quality rollerball pen that can be refilled with fountain pen ink is a good alternative. A classy rollerball pen works well when signing documents that produce multiple carbon copies. Pulling out a beautiful Delta Vintage rollerball pen for the signature that finalizes a deal is sure to impress! J. Herbin ink cartridges in the color Bleu Nuit would be a nice match.

3) Leather Pen Case

When you invest in the gift of a classy pen, a genuine leather pen case is the perfect accessory. It protects your pen from damage when it is carried in a purse or briefcase. Aston Leather has many fine leather pen cases to fit your Grad’s needs. The Aston single pen leather slip case is a simple, reasonably priced popular choice that comes in three choices of  color.

4)  Rhodia Meeting Book

The Rhodia Meeting Book can help keep a young professional entering the business world organized and on top of their project deadlines and goals. It’s more than just for work meetings though – the layout is based on a method of note taking designed by a professor at Cornell University. This note taking method can help any college student refresh their memory for mid-terms and finals.

(Moleskine Audio Cassette Journal)

5) A Unique Journal

This is an action packed, eventful time of a young person’s life. A unique journal is a great outlet for emotions and channeling creativity. The Moleskine Audio Cassette Journal celebrates the 50th anniversary of the audio cassette with a fun retro design..

6) Eurogames

Chances are your Grad could use some inexpensive R&R with their friends. Why not introduce them to a Eurogame and they can discover for themselves why these games are increasingly popular! Settlers of Catan is a great gateway to the world of Eurogames.

Do you have a Grad in your life? What gift ideas or special plans do you have in mind for them?

Want to win a $25.00 gift certificate to spend at Writer's Bloc? See the comments below for details!

April 24, 2013

Writer's Bloc Top 10 Fountain Pens

What are the top ten fountain pens? Anyone that writes with a fountain pen could likely come up with a unique list of their own ten favorite pens. Our list of the top ten fountain pens was created by considering several different factors including our own employee favorites. These fountain pens, as well as others that we choose to make available in our shop, are all carefully selected based on their individual strengths. We decided to number the pens in our top 10 list based on their current price – from the most expensive to the least expensive. See if any of your favorites are listed here:

1) Aurora Optima Demonstrator Fountain Pen – Alan says that writing with this pen is like driving a high performance European sports car. The quality and materials are beautiful and it is a joy write with. He especially loves the character of the nib which he describes as solid and somewhat toothy allowing him feel the “road conditions” as he writes.  Alan also loves fountain pens with a clear body so that you can see all of the parts and inner workings of the pen. The hidden ink reservoir feature has bailed him out near the end of meetings when he is running out of ink.

2) Pilot Custom 74 Fountain Pen – This is another favorite of Alan’s. He is a fan of extra fine nibs and loves the performance of this Japanese fine nib. He likes pens that are not too heavy and for him it has the right balance in his hand and is the perfect writing weight. His favorite Custom 74 colors include Clear and Orange and he says Smoke is a good choice if you like a less clear and more solid looking pen.

3) LAMY 2000 Fountain Pen – Alex says one reason to love the LAMY 2000 is its sleek modern Bauhaus design with its hooded nib and interesting Makrolon body and cap. Superficial reasons aside, this is a great pen to write with!

4) Namiki Falcon Fountain Pen – The Namiki Falcon is outstanding for the reason that it comes equipped with a modern 14K semi-flex nib that gives a soft, flexible feel to your writing experience. It allows for variation of stroke width while you write or draw and really shines when it is paired with ink that has good shading. Alan says that with his Falcon the ink flow is absolutely superb!

5) Pelikan M200/M205 Classic Fountain Pen – This Pelikan fountain pen has a legendary piston filling system and at its price point it is a great first step into the world of piston fill fountain pens. It is consistently a best seller and Pelikan has been in the business of creating high quality fountain pens for many years. This particular pen has a steel nib, but you can upgrade to the Pelikan M400/M405 if you prefer a gold nib. Pelikan offers special limited edition colors of the M200/M205 such as this sophisticated taupe color!

6) Stipula Bon Voyage Fountain Pen – The Bon Voyage fountain pen was specifically created to be eyedropper fill and even comes with an eyedropper for easy filling. When capped it is a compact pocket size and if you happen to be nervous about carrying an eyedropper pen in your pocket you also have the option of using short standard universal ink cartridges. It can easily be converted to a rollerball pen by removing the fountain pen feed (just unscrew it from the barrel) and replacing it with a rollerball feed. This Stipula has some pretty cool features that you can’t find on just any fountain pen!

7) LAMY Safari Fountain Pen – If fountain pens were to have a popularity contest it is pretty likely that this guy would win. I would venture to say that a plethora of writers that regularly use fountain pens have at least one LAMY Safari in their pen case. It’s a favorite everyday writer and its price makes it accessible to students and professionals alike.

8) Platinum Plaisir Fountain Pen – This is Cher’s favorite everyday “purse” fountain pen. She loves the special cap that prevents ink from drying out in the nib. The durable anodized aluminum body has a pearlized finish that comes in several fun colors such as sports car red and pale violet. As a left-handed writer she also appreciates that the grip is suitable for lefties and that the fine nib is the ideal size for her – the fine line of ink dries quickly and it is not too “pokey or scratchy” for her strange lefty writing position.

9) Pilot Metropolitan Fountain Pen – Great pen, great price. Need we say more? Makes a thoughtful inexpensive gift: it’s less than $20.00, the nib size is easy to write with even for beginners, it’s made from durable materials and it comes with a stylish Pilot gift box.

10) Platinum Preppy Fountain Pen – The lovable Preppy fountain pen is so inexpensive it is an easy introduction into the world of fountain pens. For a disposable fountain pen it offers amazing quality! It comes in seven colors and Platinum designed it so that it can be refilled or even converted to eyedropper fill. 

That’s our top 10 list! What’s yours? What fountain pens would you put on your top 10 list? We’d love to hear about your favorites!

April 10, 2013

From This Day Forward: Wedding Guest Book

From This Day Forward: Wedding Guest Book is part of Compendium’s Live Inspired collection which is meant to inspire, motivate and celebrate the world we love and live in. The inspirational quotations contained in this wedding guest book are sure be part of what will make this book a cherished memory of a couple’s special day.

Instead of just being a registry book for wedding guest names and addresses, the layout of the From This Day Forward wedding guest book is meant to inspire guests to share meaningful advice on how to have a happy life together. As friends and family write on the lined white pages in this book they will read an inspirational quotation on the facing page. The inspirational pages are a understated light-taupe color and are adorned with elegant white botanical and floral designs.

Some of my favorite quotes from this book are “It’s not where you go or what you do in life, it’s who you have beside you” - unknown, and “I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you” – Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

From This Day Forward is hard bound and is covered in a neutral light-taupe cloth with white and dark brown foil stamping. There is a matching ribbon book marker to assist in finding the right page. There are 80 pages – half are lined for guests to write on and the other half have quotations. Each wide-ruled page has 14 lines.

My favorite fountain pen to match this guest book would have to be the taupe colored Pelikan Classic M205.

My first choice for ink would be a dark taupe brown color of ink such as J. Herbin’s Cacao du Bresil.

If you would rather use a gel pen, then I would recommend the classy silver tone Pentel EnerGel Alloy RT Gel Pen that comes with a black ink cartridge. Your left-handed guests will not smear the EnerGel ink!

Are you planning on getting married this year? Congratulations and best wishes from all of us here at Writer’s Bloc!