Nomad Notebooks: Second Look

Nomad Pocket notebooks and pencils

Several years ago I tried Nomad’s pocket notebooks. While they were fun to use, I didn’t like their paper (as in, writing on it not design). Back then, however, I was a paper snob across all notebooks or journals I used. If a paper wasn’t good with graphite and fountain pens, I dismissed it.

These days when it comes to pocket notebooks, I’ve dropped my paper snobbery and don’t care as I did back then about the paper. I’m still uber-picky about paper for the notebooks and journals I write longhand in (all A6, A5, or larger), but today’s me wants to have fun with pocket notebooks. My pocket notebooks use now is solely for consumable purposes: lists, notes, to-dos, etc., all stuff done on the fly. I typically tear out used pages as I go, too, so I don’t save my pocket notebooks (there’s not much left of them when I’m through!).

I saw an Instagram post by Nomad about their new, limited Sakura notebooks and pencils. Off I went to indulge in some ORT (online retail therapy) at the Nomad site. While “on the couch,” I discovered their coffee notebooks and pencils. What follows is more of an impression than an extensive review. At the end is a gallery showing aspects of all the goodies from this order.

First, I do love how Nomad stretches the boundaries with their multiple inside paper designs and colors, and the covers usually have innovative and fun designs. For these two packs, they offered companion pencils—too tempting to pass up. Despite being Musgraves thus average pencils, the matching themes added to the fun.

The Sakura three-pack is a limited run, pink-heavy Japanese theme, and comes in a sealed envelope ala Field Note’s Packet of Sunshine (although no seeds in Sakura). The three notebooks have different cover designs (love the one with the vertical view box of a scene with the snow-capped mountain – Mt. Fuji?), and different inside cover graphics. Interior pages are a mix of layouts and light graphics, all on varying pink pages. Matching pencils are sweet design-wise, but as said, not a fan of Musgraves for writability. The primo touch on the pencils is the theme-matching custom pencil pouch they came in.

The Nomad Blend coffee three-pack was intriguing with the promise of coffee-scented inks used for the covers. The pack has coffee-toned interior pages with mixed layouts, and love the page with the coffee stain. Covers are thematic designs, but the inside covers have a coffee lover’s mix of helpful reference information. The themed pencils are naturals (my fav) and imprinted with coffee grind sizes and scale.

So did I like Nomad notebooks this second time?

In a word…mostly. I’ll have fun using them and will certainly enjoy Nomad’s approach to randomizing inside pages and carrying themes throughout. Paper quality wise, they worked good with graphite and fountain pen, but not great, yet usable in the way I use pocket notebooks.

There are two notable cons, however. The paper used for the covers is a bit soft, thus folding back the covers (even just breaking them a bit to get the photos taken) is starting in a few places to tear from the staples. I suspect I’ll have to reinforce these covers long before I use up the innards. That’s not uncommon with many pocket notebooks after some use, since they usually get beat-up from a hip pocket carry or one-handed mangling during grocery shopping. Not a deal breaker for me, but should be improved.

The other con was about the coffee scent on the coffee pack covers. It’s not really there except lightly with unfortunately a strongish chemical smell. In true scratch-n-sniff mode, the scents come up a bit, but so does that other odor. Still, that wasn’t a feature I cared about (more curious than anything) but I’m delighted with the paper tones and varied layouts and graphics, and the inside cover references and coffee rating/review blocks are pretty cool. But for me, I’ll have to air out these notebooks in the sun before I can use them due to the odor.

Overall, these Nomad notebooks will be fun to use. My suggestion to Nomad is to change the cover stock to something stronger, and/or add a third staple to help reduce the covers coming off too soon.

You can check these out at Nomad Notebooks online shop. Note that I purchased these myself and they were not supplied by Nomad for review.

Sanity Courtesy of ORT*

How do we cope during this pandemic to fulfill that human need to buy stuff? We can’t go to stores (especially when many are closed), we can’t hold curbside garage sales, that religion of the bargain hunter, and we can’t ply the mall walkways to find what we need we didn’t know we need until we see it.

No, the solution and newest sanity therapy these days is *Online Retail Therapy. Sales are booming online for merchants for obvious staples, but even more so for those proprietors of entertainment and activity goods useful for distractions and indoor pleasures. No wonder the streaming services are doing so well. And try to find a cool puzzle or game in stock online these days.

As a stationery nerd, one who’s had to cease the formerly beloved distraction of wandering office supply stores, or the few cool true stationery stores left, not to mention garage and estate sales, it’s been a dry season this past year.

Fortunately, it’s been a new world of discovering lots of small shops online selling the goods we love, both here in the states and elsewhere. But my real guilty ORT solution falls down that much beloved (and dreaded) rabbit hole of subscriptions. From limited Blackwing Volumes pencils, to Field Notes limited edition notebooks, Dapper Notes handmade notebooks, ArtSnacks monthly boxes, Mouse Books pocket readers, and on, and on, these subscriptions have been the modern equivalent of care packages in the old days. Who doesn’t remember being away at college and getting a care package full of goodies from home to sooth the separation blues?

The problem becomes, though, that in active ORT engagement, such satisfying moments of search, finding, ordering, waiting, then finally opening, tempt like opening a fresh bag of Lay’s potato chips: you can’t “eat” just one.

Now that I and many I know are getting the vaccine, can the end of ORT been near? Probably not. While these one-two stabs of hope open up possibilities, don’t see any widespread opening of shops and old-style, in-person shopping resuming soon. So I’ll have to continue with my doctor-ordered ORT (nevermind what doctor, that’s not important right now…) for now. Not that I’m complaining, mind you, but I’m staring to have the problem of where to store all this ORT goodness.

Recording a Life’s Events

Some of you may have tried user the multi-year diaries before, designed to capture highlights on specific days across three-, five-, or ten-year spans. I’ve dabbled in a five-year version, but wasn’t consistent enough plus didn’t really like the layout, and five-years felt like an enormous commitment… so I abandoned it.

Being a stationery nerd who occasionally just has to check out the latest on JetPens.com, I stumbled onto this Midori three-year diary late last year and loved the layout, the size, and ooh-mama that slipcase. At the time they were out of stock, but recently my color choice finally came back in stock. How did I know? What kind of stationery nerd would I be without a JetPens wish list and the de rigueur “notify me when back in stock” button clicked?

What follows is mostly a visual review, but here are some stats and impressions I have, although I’ve yet to write in it.

Oh, and if you think these are for January-December timeframes, ain’t necessarily so. I plan to start my three-year devotion to capturing each day’s highlights and importance on my birthday in March. Seems like an appropriate anniversary and look-back date for the next three years.

Specs & Initial Impressions

  • Size: 4.5″ x 7.3″ x .9″ thick
  • Layout: Three days per page, all open dated (20__)
  • Pages: ~ 480, ivory color
  • Line spacing: 6.5mm
  • Binding: Hardback
  • Extras: Two ribbon markers, slipcase
  • Cost: $35
  • Color options: Three-year brown/green or light blue/red; five-year black/brown or red/pink
  • My impressions:
    • Midori paper, fountain-pen friendly and should be a delight to write on
    • Lines available should be sufficient per day
    • Binding quality is superb
    • Love the slipcase for long-term keeping

Tools of the Trade: Pencils & Pens

One of the joys of being a stationery nerd and a writer is blending the two passions together. I’ve settled in a routine of using specific pencils & pens for certain writing tasks. It may see nerdy to go to such lengths, but there’s comfort in using familiar tools.

Fountain pens, L-R: Franklin Christoph P66 Antique Glass (MCI nib), Edison Baltimore Limited (FCI nib), Diplomat Aero (MCI nib), and a Nakaya Neo (MCI nib) – all in a Rickshaw Bags plus pen roll coiled in a fav mug. To the right: yellow/orange highlighter Slendy+ eraser stick, red pencil for occasional use.

As a long-time lover of fountain pens, for years I would keep too many inked up resulting in extra work to clean those not used enough. After reducing my collection down to my favorites, I’ve settled on four fountain pens to keep in rotation, each inked with a different color. Fountain pen is my tool of choice for journaling, notetaking, or writing letters, and using different color inks adds to the enjoyment.

When it comes to pencils I also have specific ones I use for first- and second-draft work (for everything from blog posts to articles to essays to poetry). I stick with Blackwing pencils (extra-firm cores for everything except poetry where I use soft cores), and there’s a nice variety available between their production pencils and the Volumes limited editions. I love going analog and using pencils longhand for these drafts, since it slows down my thinking and there’s something more authentic about the tactile feel of pencil on paper than finger tips on a keyboard. And if you’re wondering Continue reading “Tools of the Trade: Pencils & Pens”

Going Dark: Field Notes’ Autumn Trilogy Release

For us confirmed stationery nerds, the arrival of a new, limited edition subscription release is the highlight of the quarter. Challenge is, with social media coverage within niche groups so rabid, it’s nearly impossible to have the joy-like thrill of Christmas morning when the package arrives. Spoilers abound EVERYWHERE and there is only one way to ensure opening the package will be a surprise.

And so I went “dark.” I hid my icons to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, (and had to do this on laptop, desktop, iPhone, iPad) and then set up a Gmail filter to avoid seeing the announcement email when it came over. Worked pretty well, and the only news I couldn’t avoid was the release was called Autumn Trilogy. Since it’s the fall 2019 release, no surprise on the name.

Fortunately, my avoidance efforts worked. The release announcement, and no doubt multiple spoilers, came out yesterday, Tuesday. And through the benefit of being fairly close to Chicago, my package arrived today, Wednesday. So unlike our ancestral cave dwellers, I only had to spend a brief time being “in the dark.”

This release is nothing short of a stunner, and (recorders on and historians to note) just may be my all-time favorite Field Notes release. Let me repeat that: All. Time. Favorite.

The attention to detail in this release is amazing, clever, and hits the spot (at least, my spot). Since autumn is my favorite season, orange my favorite color, trees my favorite thing in nature, and pocket notebooks with 70#, fountain-pen friendly ruled paper my paper-format of choice, what else could this be but my new favorite. I see more packs of this coming to my mailbox soon since I believe this issue will sell out pretty quickly. More pix below of the details in the gallery.

If this hits your button too, head over to Field Notes Brand website and score some for yourself. But don’t wait: like every fall with gorgeous leave colors, they won’t last long.