January 31, 2018

2018 PLANS

So, this was meant to be available at the beginning of the year, but alas, life always gets in the way. Not to mention, it took a while before I finally settled into a regular planning pattern. I'd have to be honest though, even now I still feel like I'm missing some concrete concepts I'd much rather have in my regular planning. I'm sure I'll be refining my system as the days / weeks / months go on, but currently, I'm glad to say that I have settled on these current two:
  1. Regular MTN
  2. Passport MTN

Yep, just two, but trust me, it took a lot of trial and error with a few different diaries / planners (naturally) before I decided that simplicity is the way to go.

I've always needed a place to write my thoughts out, hold random notes / quotes from books, and document the highlights of my day, expenses and work schedule. I needed something portable, but big enough to scribble down thought processes. I also wanted something on the go and somewhat private. I realised that not everything needed to be in one place - although it would be much more preferable to have it so. I'm currently still tossing up uses and portability issues between the two sizes, but I've decided that the regular and passport MTN would be my companions for the year.

As I am continuously swapping between both sizes depending on their usage, both planners currently hold similar things in case I need to pick either one of them up at a moment's notice. I hold a maximum of two notebooks in each size (as any more than that makes it too bulky for my liking). However, that doesn't limit me to just using two notebooks. The additional notebooks just gets rotated around depending on their usage. A list of what each size carries is as follows:

1- 2018 Weekly Diary
2- Blank Notebook x 2

When it comes to the Passport size, I absolutely love its portability. I love that its small size enables me to carry it in my back pocket (when I’m desperate), or in my scrubs pocket when I’m at work, and it’s not too heavy to do so. I can whip it out on the train when space is limited, and not need two hands to balance it while I write. But of course, this size does have its limitation, which mostly comes down to scribble space. The Regular size is great when it comes to brainstorming, random doodles and just general planning which needs more space than what a Passport size can offer. Therefore when it comes to the Passport size, a weekly grid planner with my to-do lists allocated to each day is sufficient. And when events come up for the week, there'll definitely be a Polaroid picture attached to the allocated week for quick memory keeping. Together with stickers I get from Kaisercraft, a jazzed up planner spread is ready with enough space to properly list all the things I need to get done.

The two other blank notebooks I use are for personal and general notes, with one notebook for each category. One is entirely private, and therefore, are only limited to my eyes, whilst the other is free to roam the grounds of the Earth as all it will ever contain are random notes / quotes / information.

The Passport size is great for passing thoughts - ideas you don't want to forget, but would rather not scribble on a napkin. It's a great size to whip out wherever I am, and the fact that it's small and light means that it's never a trouble to carry around.

1- 2018 Weekly Vertical
2- Grid Notebook
3- Craft Notebook

My regular size is my absolute everything planner. It's where thoughts and ideas develop after its initial conception in my Passport notebook, it's where I list the things I have to do, and it contains little snippets of my day worth documenting. When it comes to the planner, I've religiously used my vertical 2018 planner refill for a month now, and I'm actually surprised at how great it's been. It's everything I never knew I needed! I used to think that the narrow columns of each day would annoy and hinder me from writing absolutely anything, but I've come to realise that I don't actually need much space, after all.

The one thing I love about this refill is the year in review planner at the front which I use to document the shifts I'm working. I've always wanted a diary that can show me my working shifts at a glance and still have space to differentiate between that and my to-do lists, but I've never really settled on a suitable layout. Well, I'm glad to say that I've now found it!

My weekly view varies with each week depending on the day's happenings. It's been nice adding little notes / conversations I have into each column as it becomes an entertaining way to preserve snippets of memories. But of course, not every day holds something special, as as such, I've come to embrace empty spaces when the day holds nothing of note.

I guess it's helped that I've decided that this planner will hold no frills or fancy bits - no stickers, no photos, no stamps, etc - with everything written in with only a single black fountain pen. And I can tell you that it's made the whole process of documenting things a whole lot less pressuring because I can finally write on the go. I don't need to bring a thousand little stamps / stickers / highlighters / pens in the hopes that it will make my planner prettier. After all, it's meant to be a working planner, not a pretty one!

The next notebook that my MTN houses is just a plain grid notebook. I've taken the cover of a regular grid refill and changed it to the PANAM refill cover (just because it makes it look a bit prettier and more in the vintage style I want it to have). Inside holds anything and everything. It currently holds notes from a book called Creative Strategies (by Fridolin of Baum Kuchen!) that inspired me as I read it. I plan to make it hold little every day notes like plans of future road-trips, work / drug information etc. The possibility is endless! I just need to kick my fear of keeping things neat (again!) so that I can use it to its full potential.

The last notebook is my craft notebook which will contain anything memorable of 2018. I've decided that I won't be able to scrapbook every day / month, and there is no point creating a notebook specifically for this. Therefore, I've created a kraft notebook filled with varying pages (grid, blank, tracing etc) that will be filled with events in chronological order but with no limits as to when each memory has to be documented. I don't carry it around with me in my normal MTN holder as it does not get used on a regular basis, and is therefore just stored at home. Here's an example of a spread I did to document a day out I had with a friend of mine:

And that's it for my 2018 planners. I've needed to keep things simple this year (mostly for the sake of my sanity!). But I love that everything is working out for me one month into 2018!

November 19, 2017


I was fortunate enough to be able to visit the physical Milligram (formerly Notemaker) store at Melbourne Central recently, and managed to pick up some new notebooks to use (because you can never leave empty handed!). Newly opened on the 4th of November, it’s a store you will have to visit if you’re ever in town. There were three sets of notebooks that I picked up in my time there, and I’ve decided to do a little review comparing each in terms of size and paper quality.

These were the three notebooks:

1- Octaevo Passport Notebooks
2- Field Notes Campfire Edition
3- Milligram A6 Ruled Notebook

I’m currently predominantly using my Passport notebook for everyday planning and journaling, but have yet to find the perfect size for regular note-taking and documentation. As much as I love the Midori branded notebooks (because they’re a perfect all round notebook), they're limited variety means I'm always on the lookout for something different (and it's hard when not many companies do a Passport size notebook!)

But anyway, let's start with my review of the three notebooks. I'll go through size, variety and most importantly, paper quality tests:

1- Octaevo Passport

The Octaevo brand is new to Milligram and boasts colourful notebooks of varying sizes. Octaevo harks from across the Mediterranean seas of Barcelona with each piece they create being made to last. I purchased the Travel Notes Notebooks, Set of 3 in Alexandria, Barcelona and Athens, because they were the exact Passport size notebooks I needed. They come in a set of three, with each colour (yellow orange and blue) holding either plain, ruled or dot-grid pages:

Unlike Midori Passport notebooks, the cover is in fabric, giving them a more lasting and luxurious feel. Not to mention, their bright colours makes everything pop:

I do have to mention though, that these Octaevo notebooks are actually slightly larger than the Midori Passport notebooks:

However, they still fit perfectly in the leather cover with no overhang:

The pages feel thick and sturdy, but of course, we'll only get to know the quality of it with every day writing equipment. So on to the pen test:

I've decided to try out the most frequently used pens currently in the planner community (although do bear with me, I don't have every favourite pen in the planner community!) which included:
1- Midori Fountain Pen (with De Atramentis Documenter ink)
2- Pilot Juice 0.4
3- Muji 0.38 Gel Pen
4- Ballpoint pen
5- Kaweco Fountain Pen (F)
6- Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen (EF)
7- YStudio Fountain Pen (F)
8- Tombow Dual Brush

I will speak in terms of feathering, bleed and show through.
Feathering: ink spreads beyond where it is applied to the paper, usually along the fibres
Bleed through: seepage of ink from one side of the page to the other
Show through: the ability to see words / images printed on one side of the page on the other. Note that just because a paper has show through, doesn't mean it has bleed through!

I have to say, I was thoroughly impressed. The thick paper really held up well with all pens. Here's a closer look at how the different pens fared on the page:

There was minimal feathering in all the non-fountain pens, with feathering increasing with nib size. It wasn't too obvious to cause any blurring of words. And here's how it looks like on the back of the page:

Again, impressed. The YStudio Fountain Pen seemed to cause the most trouble in terms of feathering and slight bleed through, but only because of the size of the nib (even though its F!). The page fared very well with all other pens with only a slight show through with the other two fountain pens.

Overall: I would definitely consider using these notebooks if I were to ever need a change from the Midori variety.  They're a great size (slightly larger than the normal, which also means more space!), contains great paper and are aesthetically pleasing. Not to mention, they have a dot grid notebook which is a big plus considering I can't find one anywhere else! Highly recommend!

2- Field Notes:

Field Notes are a well known brand for their notebooks. Although slightly larger than a Passport size, I love having them as an extra notebook tucked at the back for random notes and doodles. For me, Field Notes are kinda like a brain-dump-disposable notebook. It allows my thoughts to run free on the page with no pressure to be neat.

I bought myself the Campfire Edition seeing it was one of the many versions I've been eyeing for a while mostly because of the cute patch it comes with, and the fact that the grid lines inside came in gorgeous blue, orange and brown colours!

But having used Field Notes before, I knew what to expect with the paper quality, which to be honest, isn't fantastic for the pens I use. And here's why:

Using the same pens I trialled in the Octaevo Notebooks, I have tested them out in the Field Notes pages again. Here's how it looks:

And here's a closer look:

Feathering is slightly more evident in the fountain pens in the Field Notes as compared to Octaevo, which was mostly only evident in the Ystudio Fountain Pen. The Tombow Dual Brush marker colour created little blots on the page rather than a smooth colour lay like with the Octaevo, so don't expect colouring in these pages to turn out too artistic. The non-fountain pens fared equally in both Octaevo and Field Notes notebooks.

A look at the back of the page shows that the Fountain Pens definitely has more show and bleed through in the Field Notes page than it did in Octaevo. All other non-fountain pens did not show through:

Overall: Field Notes is great for the every day user. If you're looking for something relatively affordable to jot down notes on the go, that will hold up to most pens, this is the notebook for you. Their variety of colours, page size and the ability to choose between ruled, plain and grid paper means that there is definitely something for everyone.

3- Milligram:
Designed in Australia, with features like fountain-pen friendly paper, colourful covers and a variety of page ruling for everyone, Milligram's A6 notebooks are the next up in line in my review:

Milligram A6 notebooks comes in a pack of two, and in this case, I received a pack of two ruled baby blue and peach notebooks to try out.

They contain 40 sheets of ruled paper with 85GSM Italian Milled Fabriano Boutique Bioprima Book Paper (sounds super fancy!). But of course, this would all mean nothing without the crucial pen test. And spoiler alert: their paper definitely lives up to expectations! Here's a look at all the pens I tested out on the page:

Compared to Octaevo and Field Notes, the fountain pens on this paper had minimal to no feathering. What used to be quite evident feathering of the Ystudio fountain pen in the previous two notebooks were absolutely minimal in the Milligram notebooks. All other non-fountain pens fared well. I added extra pen tests including the Faber Castell Pitt, Versamagic ink and Pentel Brush Pen and Pentel Touch, and they all fared just as well. Exciting!

Things from the back:

Now, unlike the previous two notebooks which had minimal show-through but had some bleed through, Milligram notebooks do have show-through. There is minimal bleed through with some inks like the Pentel Brush markers, however, as these were not trialled in previous notebooks and are not exactly 'everyday pens', I will exclude them from this comparison review. There is minimal bleed through with the YStudio Fountain pen (which seems to be the trouble maker here!), but it is worth noting that no bleed through is evident with all other fountain pens. Depending on how you are with show-through pages, this might not be a deal-breaker for some. After all, writing on top of show-through pages are not as distracting as compared to writing on top of bleed-through pages. Bleed-through tends to affect the opposite page only because it can obscure words with the ink blots from the previous page. Show through, on the other hand, will be masked once something else is written on top of it.

Overall: the paper does stand up to Fountain pens beautifully as boasted in its book jacket. There is show-through at the back, but it is an overall great notebook with impressive paper!

When comparing all three:

Top to bottom: Milligram, Field Notes, Octaevo

From the above, you can see how each notebook fares with the other. Overall, the choice of your notebook will depend on their size, quality and use of each. As I am a Passport size user, the Octaevo brand is the winner if I were to need a change from the Midori branded notebooks. Although not the best quality paper, Field Notes are still here to stay due to its size and just their overall fun look and page size.

Hope this review helped!

August 27, 2017


I’ve been blessed in receiving a number of beautifully made notebooks from Bookblock recently, and it was no different when I received their newest edition in the mail: The Weskin Notebooks.

These notebooks are intricately styled to give you that vintage-Jane-Austen feel. Cloth bound, semi-flexible, gold-trimmed page edges, and cream coloured ruled pages are available in each Weskin notebook, and come in either the navy blue, yellow or black.

Here's a little backstory on the company and their newest notebook creation:

Bookblock has been customising and manufacturing products since 2013, creating the highest quality notebooks, stationery and leather products. With this knowledge and experience, Bookblock have developed and created their own range of beautiful stationery products. To coincide with the launch of their retail site this summer, Bookblock will launch the Weskin: their flagship product.

The Weskin is the perfect companion to your working day. A cloth bound, gilt edged A5 notebook that pairs timeless classic design with a contemporary finish, and like all of Bookblock’s products, is proudly made in Europe. The Weskin notebook is available in classic navy blue, contemporary yellow or muted grey, accompanied by a perfectly applied gilt edge and geometric lining inside. Subtle details come in the selection of a double grosgrain ribbon and distinct Bookblock gold foiled logo on the reverse. A superb choice for any aspiring creatives and professionals alike.

Here are a few features regarding the notebooks:
1- LAYS FLAT: Keeping your notebook flat is often an annoying and impossible task, the Weskin solves this problem with its perfectly flat lying spine, staying flush to your desk without constantly pushing back into a closed position. What could make writing easier and more enjoyable than this - using a notebook that enables full use of the page; ergonomic design that is as slick as it is practical

2- SEMI-FLEX: True to Bookblock’s standards in manufacturing, they have tested and developed a design that has made a perfect link between a flexible, soft cover notebook and a hard bound notebook: the semi flex. Keeping it light and soft, the semi flex cover creates a movable feel without interrupting the quality or finish in transit.

3- DURABLE TEXTURED CLOTH: Bookblock’s contemporary aesthetic and understanding
meant they were able to source the best quality cloth to cover the Weskin with. It’s quality and feel is like no other, a truly outstanding material that keeps its durability throughout your working day.

4- GILT EDGING: Gilt edging is the process of applying colour to the very edge of your notebook’s pages. Adding a touch of gold, with it’s premium guilt edge, the Weskin sets itself apart from any other notebook with this sophisticated, classic detail.

5- DOUBLE RIBBON: Bookblock love detail that is useful: the double grosgrain ribbon in two colours is elegant and practical to keep hold of useful pages within your Weskin.

Now, of course all these features are nice and makes these notebooks look absolutely delicious, but how do they hold up in terms of paper quality and usage? My answer: superbly.

I did a little trial page test for a number of different types of pens and the outcome is surprising. Being a predominantly fountain pen user, I like to test these pens first on any notebook I acquire. Writing on these Weskin pages are as smooth as butter. It held up well to my Extra Fine Lamy Fountain pens (filled with De Atramentis Documenter ink) with minimal show through on the other side. There was no problem when trialling the paper with regular ballpoint pens, and 0.38 Muji gel pens, as expected. Overall, it's a nice notebook to write in, and with the cream coloured pages, the Weskin notebook does end up being quite aesthetically pleasing.

The Weskin notebooks will launch in Summer 2017 and will be available from the Bookblock shop, retailing at £15. International delivery and wholesale orders are available at www.bookblock.com/shop

April 30, 2017


I think I need to make some progress this month. It seems like I've been getting no where with my craft or studies, and I'm just going through the motions of every day life. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, I actually don't mind it, but I know that work is currently my number one priority when it really should be anything else. But compared to the few months before, my social life has had a (minor) blip on the radar. I went to a colleague's farewell dinner just two days ago, have another dinner planned next week, a seminar with a friend on the weekend and an art exhibition visit with the intern in two weeks. It's really all happening this month, on top of my absolutely full work schedule, of course. But I guess I also (kinda) miss the days where I would sit down and document my life (in pictures). On one hand, I'm still going strong with my daily journaling, but on the other, my memory keeping has dropped to none. So I think this month will need some changes that I will hopefully bring forward to the next (and last!) 6 months of 2017.

I'd like to go through last month's goals and how I faired with them, but let's be honest, looking back, I think I failed almost all categories, and that's just no fun. So let's skip ahead to May and all the potential it may bring:

  • READ: I've recently bought a number of books on fashion and memoirs from a number of sources, and I hate that I haven't been able to sit down, dig in and write some notes from it. My current reads are: Note to Self by Connor Franta (I love the visual images in it together with the diary style format the book has), The Curated Closet by Anuschka Rees and Love x Life x Style by Garance Dore. I like to take my time with these because they're the type of books you can start from any chapter and will still make sense
  • STUDY: To think that I don't even have a deadline for my study... but I guess that's why it's taken me so long to get started. I really need to get a start on this if I want to keep a non-stressful study timeline before the GAMSAT comes around again next year!
  • PHOTOGRAPHY: I've been lacking ... severely. I'm hoping that my upcoming social events will get me back into photographing, because I really do miss using a proper camera!
  • DOCUMENTATION: I admit, I've been lacking in my documentation skills recently - as said above. I've been stressing over what notebook t use (again) - passport / regular / MD / pocket / A5 ?? - but I decided that it was time to try out Passport size again. It worked really well for me previously, and I found it so hard to get back into Regular size. I still love the Regular MTN, but I need something that I can carry with me in my pocket when I'm on call or at work and write my thoughts in whenever they strike. I have a few hundred days of thoughts still buzzing in my head and they need to be unleashed onto a page.
  • EXERCISE: I'm actually absolutely disappointed in myself with how much I've lacked in my exercise recently. I'd like to blame the shortened days and longer work hours, but I know I can always sacrifice a little of my morning sleep if I really wanted. I'm hoping May will give me that motivation back
  • MONEY: I've been spending more of my money on clothes recently - weird, I know. Before you know it, I'll be spending it on make-up (gasp!). I guess it has got to do with my recent clothing cull of all the clothes I don't like and wouldn't wear again, but clothes are sucking my bank account dry (together with necessary medical appointments, and every day necessities). I'm slowly growing into a full adult and it's crazy! So I think it's time to start tightening the belt again when it comes to money (even though I know I'll be getting it all back with the amount of overtime shifts I'm doing this month!).
It's basically the same goals over again, but I guess it needs to be said in order for it to be done! Let's go, May!

April 24, 2017


Guess what lovelies? I'm running a new class over at Big Picture Classes for all you planner babes! I go through a number of ideas and tips in the class that you can use in your planner for more than just planning!

The class is live now and you'll be able to sign up to get a one week trial with access to all the amazing classes they have on offer. Click on this link here to be directed straight to my newest class. Exciting times are ahead. I'll see you there!

April 14, 2017


Oh, I've been waiting for the arrival of this beauty ever since I saw its announcement. My favourite colour has always been green and when Midori decided to pull this one out of the bag, I knew I had to have it. They're currently out of stock from Notemaker, but never fear, word is, they'll be back for sale in May! Do sign up for their notifications so you'll know when to get your hands on it. The ballpoint pen accessory is still available for sale though (you'll get a look at it in the pictures below).

I have a love affair with Midori's packaging for the Traveler's Notebook, and I love that they've customised the opening sheet in olive green to match the TN inside. It came with the usual dust bag and extra string, but once it's opened, here's how it looks like:

I tried to make the picture as true to the colour of the TN as possible, but alas, there's something about the camera and the olive colour that does not seem to work! Do check out Notemaker's photos to get a better depiction of the actual colour. What I can say about it though is that it's luscious. 'Inspired by the dense old-growth of forests', as described by MTN, the Olive really is one of a kind. I can tell that it will age nicely with time, and there's just something about the colour that makes me want to venture out far and wide with it.

Here are a few styled shots (which I must admit, made the MTN look more brown than olive) that I took at sunset:

Like its brothers, the Olive is fully customisable. The olive pen holder and ballpoint pen came separately, but because I had to have the matching pair, in my cart they went!

If you're a MTN fan like I am, you have to get your hands on the Olive. It will be a great addition to the collection, and you definitely won't regret the colour!

April 1, 2017


I'd like to say that March flew by, but in retrospect, I think it was one of the longest month I've had in a while. I can't seem to put my finger on why it was, but it seemed to drag on with no end in sight. But now that we're well into April and I haven't even written my goals up, I can say that this month will be the complete opposite.

Either way, let's look at how March went:
  • READ: Ok, so I actually managed to finish a book this month - albeit it took me a while. I picked up A Man Called Ove in stores after it was recommended by Kelly Purkey, and it was actually a nice read. The end was definitely a heartbreaker. But despite this, like I said, it took me a while (almost a whole month!) to finish it, only because it didn't pull me in from the start. I miss reading books that hooks me in from the beginning and keeps me wanting to read it till the end. Maybe my reading interests have changed as I grow older, but it also seems as though I'm migrating towards reading hobby / self-help books more often than not. I'm reading books like Love x Style x Life where if you told younger me I'd be picking this book up in the future, I would probably laugh in your face. I've actually found these real-life experience books a whole lot more interesting than the fiction section, and I think I'm ok with that. Besides, it only means I'll be able to get through books faster.
  • ADVENTURE: I'm still planning but failing at going through with any adventures recently. Sad, I know, but with a possible wedding coming up in the next few months, I'm happy to postpone this little goal till a little later in the year.
  • WORK: March's work schedule ended up being just as hectic as any other month. There are always people dropping shifts, and I am always there picking them up because why not? Hah. I'm still enjoying work though, and I guess that's a good thing. I haven't quite burnt out just yet.
  • CREATIVITY: I may have picked up my scrapbooking / crafting in the beginning the month, but it died sooner rather than later. A little disappointed, but oh wells.
  • EXERCISE: I have cut down a little, I must admit. I'm now only doing exercises once every two days, etc, but I haven't abandoned it completely.
  • SELF DIRECTED STUDY: I got my books and I tried to get organised, but every time I want to start it, I always find an excuse to procrastinate. I'm not even in uni and I somehow manage to find time to do that. At least with self-directed study, I don't have any guilt or deadlines coming at me.
I'm a little here and there with my goals for March, and I must admit, that's not good. I think I need to change the way I insert these goals into my life. It seems like everything's just everywhere and it's only because I don't have a solid way of documenting my life recently. Either way, here's a look at April's goals, and hopefully there'll be a better outcome:

  • READ: Still on the reading boat, and hoping for better outcomes this month. I'm currently happy with just one novel being read this month (as it seems that's the fastest I can only read), and probably a mix of lifestyle books
  • EXERCISE: I'm going to try to head back to exercising once a day like I used to in the first two months, because it seems like it's getting harder to do things that I thought I was getting used to now that I've slacked off.
  • MONEY: Ok, I've been spending a little too much again, so I think it's time to cut back. I've done a whole lot of Treat Yo Self recently, and with my money rapidly depleting, I think it's time to tighten the belt until the next month. I'm not going to put a spending limit because I know I won't stick to it, but just mentally noting that I have to cut back does make a difference!
  • WORK: Forever picking up shifts and not regretting it ~
  • FRIENDS: I know I made a goal this year to do something different every month, and 'friends' aren't really a goal, but I think it's high time I started to reconnect with some of my high school and uni friends again, and possibly make more friends too. Although I've been working too much, it has also meant that I'm now close to a whole lot of people in ED too. I guess it helps that I've been working with two Drs that are as close to me in age, and because of that, I've been able to learn from them as much as I've been able to mess around with them. It's nice that I'm actually getting closer to people I never thought I would be able to.
It should be an interesting month ahead. Let's see how it goes.