Review: Yoobi Mini Gel Pen 12-pack

The Yoobi display filled up with loads of different gel pen packages. The full sized multicolor package was outside of my budget, so I picked up the 12-pack of mini pens for $4.99, which is still way over priced. While back-to-school sales can net us some great deals this is not one of them. For 2018, the multicolor packs of gel pens seem to be the thing that is WAY expensive compared to other items that are on discount.

This 12-pack of color has an odd rainbow mix of neon and glitter inks. The mix is odd and most of them I won’t use- primarily the glitter inks. While I like glittery sheen in my fountain pen inks I don’t like it in gel. It doesn’t make sense. I know. Don’t @ me.

The tips are bold and have great flow. I didn’t notice any scratchiness, just smooth ink flow. The pens are totally uncomfortable. When they say mini, they mean it. The length of the pen is far to short even for my small hands. They would only be comfortable for children. Even posted they are too short. Speaking of posting, they don’t post well at all.

Overall, the Yoobi gel minis have wonderful ink flow, would be great for coloring pages or highlighting, but their diminutive size and poor posting mean they’ll be a pain in the arse in use for anything but children, and kids are likely to lose the caps. I’d give the full-size Yoobi gel pens a chance but not the mini pens.

Thinking: Blue Inks That Photocopy

There is no legal reason to not use any color of ink, but it’s a well worn bit of professional etiquette that blue and black inks are considered professional. A former boss at my DayJob insisted on us using black ink for everything. She attempted to tell us that it was for legal reasons, then it was because it’s professional. Finally, she insisted on black ink because blue does not photocopy well. Some blue inks do not photocopy well and if I’m going to use blue ink then I need to know which inks copy well.

I’m going to start this little experiment with the following caveat- I know some of the blue inks I’ve been using at work do not copy well on the small Canon copier we use for fast small batches of copies. We’ve nicknamed this copier “Big Bertha.” Why? I’m less likely to kick uit if it has a name. Well that’s not WHY but it’s a good reason. I’ve included these blues in this experiment for many reasons. Thus far I’ve written with 16 different inks and with one refill style twice, when it is new and once when it starts to skip. Most of these inks are gel, ballpoint, or rollerball. I have one fountain pen inked with blue, and that is included. I do not use a lot of blue inks in my fountain pens, but find myself adding more as I need to have a rotation of “professional” inks.

Experiment- test these pages in my pocket notebook on Bertha as well as the high volume machine on the other side of the building. Bertha tends to make worse prints while the high volume machine does much better. I’d also like to test it on the fax, but then I’d have to write everything out again on a flat sheet of paper. Oh well, next time. Each pen and ink will have the following phrase, “Blue inks for photocopies” followed by the name of the pen, color and size if known.


The copier used makes a huge difference in the quality of how blue inks photocopy. Big Bertha (Small canon copier) doesn’t do a good job at picking up the blue inks, many of the lighter shades barely show up. With the larger Xerox WorkStation most of the blue inks copied perfectly well. Only the lightest of the blue shades were pale in the copies made on the large Xerox machine.

From the big copier
From “big Bertha” note the differences.

The pens I would use for guaranteed copy success no matter the copier would be:

  • A fresh Monteverde blue refill with a medium tip
  • Zebra Sarasa medium in indigo
  • Uniball Signo 207 BLX in blue black
  • Papermate Inkjoy in Slate Blue or Blue

Medium tips seem to copy better than fine or extra fine even with the better copier. The line form the EF and F tips were fair with the better copier but not exceptional. Sadly for photocopy clarity, a medium point is needed.

Big Bertha makes pale copies.

Review: Composition Notebooks at Walmart

The Walmart near me is out of my way so getting to it is a bit of a pain in the arse. I finally had a reason to go that was more pressing than just picking up a few notebooks. School started over a week ago and there were still parents and kids in there buying notebooks. Maybe they were hoping to cash in on some sweet clearance deals, but they were as surprised as I that clearance prices were not applied.

I picked up 4 different notebooks, 3 were actual composition notebooks while another was a sneak in disguise.

Studio C

  • Clear Poly Cover with decorative stickers
  • Wide rule only
  • Perfect bound and thus NOT a composition book
  • $1.96

To be fair the Studio C notebook sports the same great paper as every other Studio C notebook. In this case the paper is slightly rougher than the other versions, but works well with every ink I tossed at it. All inks that sheen, sheened highly, and glitter glittered. Pencil feels great on this slightly toothier version of the Studio C paper.

The poly cover is floppy and you cannot write in hand with this notebook. The biggest downer of this book is that it is perfect or glue bound instead of being stitched. Even after my review the back page was falling out. It will be great for letter writing or notes that need to be put into other books. Overall, I’m unimpressed.

Mead Fashion Cover 100 Pages

  • Thin card covers
  • Fun patterns and colors
  • Contrasting white spine tape
  • 100 pages
  • The palest of pale blue ruling
  • 50 cents

The covers of these Mead comps are gorgeous. I love the colors, patterns, and designs. I wanted to pick out one of each pattern and color. I’m glad I didn’t. This paper was absolute garbage with fountain pens and liquid ink. Some of my gel pens bled through. This is a ballpoint and pencil only notebook.

Exceed by Norcom

  • Thick poly covers,
  • Thick smooth paper
  • Dark blue ruling
  • 80 sheets
  • Made in the USA!!!
  • $1.47

I had high hopes for this comp book, the Exceed Moleskine knockoffs have gotten rave reviews from many of my friends, and are offered in dot grid. Then.  I saw that it was made by Norcom. Norcom makes great comp books but not one I’ve tried has a bit of fountain pen compatibility. That was the case with these. Not only did inks feather and bleed, but they soaked through to the page behind! Not good. Pencil, ballpoint,  and gel inks performed well.

As poly covers go, this is a good one, you’ll just need to use pencil or ballpoint. The stitching is great.

Pen+Gear by Walmart

  • 80 pages
  • Medium blue ruling
  • Thin, floppy poly cover
  • Well stitched
  • Overly narrow, black taped spine
  • 50 cents

Last year’s version of the P+G comp was garbage. I picked this up because it was 50 cents and I wanted to see if it was still garbage. The paper is smooth and feels good. I was surprised when I used my fountain pens and nothing feathered or bled. Inks looked amazing on this paper and my pens felt amazing too. Loads of sheen and glimmery glitter.

Anyway, the mighty have fallen and some have risen. In the composition book grande battle royale, there are a few winners and a few losers. The winner hands down are the Studio C- they aren’t the best price but they offer a sturdy binding and the best of the best in paper. If you want the best price- the Target Unison at 50 cents is the best classic covered at the best price. They also sport some amazing paper. If you want a poly cover (why, why would you?) the Pen+Gear was a surprising winner at Walmart this year. The paper is lovely and the plain colors are great. They had a number of foiled holographic fashion covers available, sadly also poly covered.

Review: Cognitive Surplus “The Hypothesis” Hardcover Notebook

Cognitive surplus designated this a notebook but it functions quite well as a journal.

The nitty gritty:

  • 7×9 inches
  • Hardcover, with a waterproof coating
  • 192 pages of 80 gsm paper
  • Pale gray ruling, graph on the left, lines on right; available in different ruling online
  • Fountain pen friendly paper, with medium or smaller nibs
  • Designed in Portland, OR made in China
  • Lengthy gray ribbon page marker.
  • $18.95 at Bob Slate in Cambridge MA, and in their online shop

I picked up the Crystallization cover because it has geometric shapes on a dark teal background. They have many other cover options in many other colors in their online shop. I particularly like the Planetary Motion, Neurons, Models of the Universe, and Brain Anatomy. The designers at CS have a great sense of color and design. They mix old-timey scientific drawings with text and color in a way that I find particularly interesting.

The cover is smooth and not quite slippery in hand. It has a satin finish that has gotten burnished with use and shows a few spots of shine as I’ve pulled it in and out of my bag. I’ve been a bit… rough, with it and it’s showing the consequences. The burnishing is barely noticable.

Inside I found the signatures of the book to be securely stitched and glued. I did not find any glue creep or loose stitching in my book. The block is cut cleanly and square. It is fitted into the cover well. The whole thing opens flat on desk or in hand. The covers are stiff and solid, allowing the book to be used for writing in hand. It even folds over onto itself well. Surprisingly well considering that the binding utilizes a piece of card across the spine, a practice which I find usually interferes. IN this case it is done well enough that it doesn’t interfere at all.

The paper is decently smooth with most of my finer nibbed pens. I only noticed feathering with ink that has general issues with bleed through, the majority of my inks were well behaved and looked great. Inks that sheen exhibited a great deal of sheen. Glittery inks glittered. I did not note any ink spread. Nib size is true on this paper. All other inks performed well on this paper- grl, rollerball, and ballpoint were all fabulous.

The paper also has excellent tooth for pencils. It’s at a great amount for even softer darker pencils. I found that my soft dark pencils held a point quite well. My harder pencils also performed well on this paper. They put down a decent amount of lead to the page and smudging is minimal. Pencil felt superb to me on this paper.

Overall, I love the designs on the covers and the paper is great. The size works well for notes or journaling. It’s just a smidge smaller than a composition notebook so fits in most backpacks and messenger bags with ease. the cover is sturdy and allows for writing in hand. At $18.95 these aren’t cheap, but they are a solid choice for a journaling splurge or gifting to your favorite stationery fan.

No affiliate links today. I bought this book with my own cash money and no one influenced my review. But hey if Cognitive Surplus wanted to hit me up with review copies of their other books I’d be down to review the rest of their line. They have POCKET NOTEBOOKS with their colorfully printed covers!!!

Review: Baron Fig LE Confidant Wander Dream Journal

I’ll get this part of the reviw out of the way- the Wander journal is a Confidant with a few tweaks that make it even more lovely. The base the Wander is built off of has lovely paper, a great binding, and sturdy covers. The book’s Smythe stitching lays flat on a table for easy writing. In short if you are going to make a specialty use journal, the Confidant is a perfect base to begin with.

Baron Fig seems to have added a decent amount of length to their page marker ribbons which, makes them useable! I can grasp the ribbon and open the book with it. Lovely.

The exterior of this book is gorgeous. Deep midnight blue is accented with debossed silver foil stars and a moon. The fabric itself has a glint and glimmer of silver woven into the fabric. The combination of debossing and hint of glitter is lovely. The debossed stars and moon are wonderfully tactile under my fingers. NOt only is the texture of the fabric a tactile feel in hand but the feel of the stars is great too. I’ve said this before (re: Raspberryhoney) but the debossed Confidants are pettable. The color combination of the midnight blue cover, the deeply shaded end sheets and additional midnight blue pages plus the dusty blue ribbon is beautiful.

I forgot to mention this Confidant has one new feature that I love- a silvery gray elastic to hold the whole thing shut. Hells yeah! My elastic feels snug and silky soft in hand. It feels pretty sturdy in hand. I hope Baron Fig considers adding this as a regular feature for their Confidants.

What really sets the Wander apart from other Confidants is the specialty interior. At the edge of each page are tools to quickly record emotions, quality, viewpoint, etc about the dream. The journal is set up so that you record each dream on 2 pages, or what we in the journaling world call, “spreads.” Each spread consists of a “recall” or lined page where you record the dream, the right hand page is divided into two sections- visualize or a blank section where you can draw or doodle and finally a dotted line section called interpret.

If you are someone who dreams this is likely to be a great journal for recording your dreams. Even if you don’t dream this could be a useful journal for just examining the events of your day, or one particular event. this would be a great journal to use for examining cognitive distortions.

Overall, this is a gorgeous journal with a very specific end use. I see it as going down in BF history as a bit of genius despite it probably not being a best seller. Though, if you have a friend who analyzes their dreams this would be a perfect gift. This is another thing BF does well- each of their journals arrives in a perfect gift box, which makes them easy to gift wrap.

Interesting Things 20180831


Digging into my silly obsession with productivity information. This is an interesting take on logging your ideas and ideas. All it takes is a pen and a notebook.

I was wondering what Big Dick Energy meant, so I looked it up. This is probably the least… explicit article I could find about BDE.

I never really thought about where bullet journaling originated. It seems to be the love child of the GTD, 43 Folders, and Patrick Rhone’s dash/plus system. Either way, they are all just complicated lists with added symbols.

Ever feel like the art world is full of it right up to their ears? Read this woman’s takes on her toddler’s paintings and laugh… or cry.

Ear holes

Writing weighty topics on Writing Excuses is a lovely discussion on writing people who are different from you.

Review: Up&Up White Index Cards Target

At a glance:

  • 100 cards
  • Thin flimsy stock
  • Rough texture
  • Pale, thin ruling
  • 49 cents during back to school

These index cards are difficult to call cards as they are made of the thinnest cardstock I’ve ever handled, you can almost see through them. They are floppy but crisp. They are a strange feeling. The texture is rough, similar under my fingers to construction paper, but not as pulpy. They are difficult to describe.

Despite the thin rough feel, these cards respond well to everything I”ve used on them. Fountain pens feel great and ink POPS off the bright white card. Inks with sheen show an awesome amount of sheen and glitter ists right on the surface having a brilliant gleam. Gel inks glide over the surface and pencil feels great too.

The cards are a bit toothy for pencil but didn’t seem to chew up my softer pencils in use. If you need a card for your Baron Fig Archers they felt like butter on these cards.

Overall if you are looking for a card that doesn’t soak up your ink like blotter paper, this is a good choice. I had no bleed through but they were thin enough that using both sides might be questionable. At 49 cents and fountain pen friendliness, these are a good deal.

Thinking: 100 Days Projects

There are a lot, and I do mean a lot of projects that people sign up to do online, from 30 Days of something to NaNoWriMo to 100 Days Projects. I have trouble completing any month-long projects that I sign up for let alone 100 Days projects. Yet here I am at 33 days into a 100 days project. I’ll surely have more pointers at the end of the project but let me share what I’ve learned so far.

Break the rules– The rules of 100 Day project state that you work on something every day for 100 days. I can’t do that and know I can’t. It’s not possible for me to work my DayJob and then come home and do something every night. I work late on Wednesdays and I know that I cannot work on my project on that day. So I double up on a day when I work late.

Don’t beat myself up. Because I know that I’m not going to be able to work on the 100 Days stuff on Wednesday night, I also allow myself to not work on 100 Days stuff when I’m stressed out or very tired. Because I’ve built in some flexibility I don’t beat myself up for taking off a needed night.

Accountability– Despite building flexibility in, I need to hold myself accountable for catching up on days when I can. This means that often times I’m doing double duty on Saturday and Sunday. I do 2 items on those days. Or try to. Go back to not beating myself up.

Thus far I’m very much enjoying the 100 Days Project. I’m learning a lot about watercolors- how the various colors respond in use and with one another on a variety of papers. I’m learning which of the colors granulates, how they merge with one another on the page as well as when mixed in a pan. Anyway, the 100 Days projects are a great way to learn about a material in depth, and it’s worth the effort. Just remember to be flexible and not to beat yourself up when you need to skip days, then catch up when you have time.

Review: Mitsubishi Uni*Star 2B Grade Pencil

Mitsubishi Uni line of pencils is among the best available. The Hi-Uni are amazing pencils, for sketching and writing; they sport thick lacquer and a nice end cap. Uni is great with the slightly less fancy finish. The Star line is the student grade line.

I picked up a 12 pack of the 2B Uni*Star on a whim, they weren’t expensive but not cheap either. I wasn’t expecting much the photos on Amazon looked… shady. What arrived was a basic cardstock box with 12 pencils. I sharpened one up and found cedar cased in a thin but glossy lacquer, sharp gold imprinting, and an end dip. Overall the presentation wasn’t bad but not on par with the other Uni line of pencils.

The pencil sharpened up easily in the Classroom Friendly and with the Pollux. The core is thin but well centered. The core itself is smooth but not silky like the Hi-Uni, or many of the other Mitsubishi pencils I’ve used. It’s merely nice. It holds a point well for a 2B pencil. It’s also nicely dark. It’s a good cheap choice for regular sketching.  All of the usual things you’d note for a 2B pencil are there: slightly smudgy, dark, doesn’t hold a point super well.

As far as student grade pencils go, this is a good 2B pencil at a decent price point. Just over $7 and free shipping. It compares well to the Palomino Pearl of 602 and is a good replacement for them if you are looking for something cheaper but still nice. Is it as good as my beloved Nanodia? No, but it is not far from them.

Get it here.

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