Traveler’s Notebook

Chic Sparrow Over Foxy Fix for the Win – the Rest of the 2019 Line Up

Not too big a stack right?  Very focused!

On top is my everyday carry.  It’s not even a journal really, it’s a date book, I guess a planner.  I shouldn’t treat planner like a dirty word, but I’ve been down that road of decorating rather than planning, and I’ve really decided that decorating is for memory keeping, and my carry around thing has to look at least semi-professional.  Oh, so what is it?  It’s a Hobonichi Weeks, housed in a Chic Sparrow Weeks cover in Golden Maverick leather.

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I Am Foxy Fixed!

Sometime towards the end of last year, I decided that I had outgrown my fauxdori, a Travelers Notebook from dokipaper on etsy.  This notebook served me well, no question, but I lost the money clip that I had on the cover, and it left a really dark mark.  I also wanted a pen loop, and I was tired of my notebooks overhanging the leather.  Since I had definitely decided to move on, the question became, to size up or stay the course?

Staying the course meant, obviously, that I would continue to use the traditional traveler’s notebook sized inserts, which are an odd size, 4.33 x 8.25″, and that would be just fine, since I have the Midori Monthly Calendar insert, and the grid insert for my attempts at a bullet journal.  While I love the Midori paper, I think it’s Tomoe River, I hate that the weeks start on Monday.  Of course, there are inserts to buy on etsy, both printed and printable, but the May Designs notebooks caught my eye, and they’re 5 x 8.  So, I decided to size up to Cahier size, which would give me room for Moleskine notebooks as well, at 5 x 8.25.

Then, what notebook?  Chic Sparrow? Foxy Fix, Keelindori? I joined a bunch of Facebook groups, and lurked.  Watched videos of flip throughs, and decided that Foxy Fix was the place for me.  I made this decision probably in the first week of December.  And, wouldn’t you know, the Foxy Fix store shut down for a month, to expand and update their business model.  Great.  Do I wait, or do I switch my plan? So, in the meantime, I bought a used Chic Sparrow, a Mr. Darcy that houses my hobonichi.  Huh, I just scrolled back and realized that I had never taken a photo of it.  Drat.  Oh well – the Mr. Darcy leather is really stiff, and feels like butter.  I immediately loved it, but I also scratched it, pretty significantly within five minutes.  While it is really beautiful leather, I didn’t think it would be a good idea for me to carry one with me everyday.  There’s a difference between leather becoming used and loved, and another with unsightly gouges in it.  So, I started looking at other Chic Sparrow leathers, and investigating Chic Sparrow – and I guess, if you look deep enough into the rather obsessive planner community on Facebook, you’ll find scandal.  Apparently the Chic Sparrow woman misappropriated someone else’s art.  I read through all of the backlash, and I think it was probably an honest mistake.   I probably would buy a Chic Sparrow from one of her orphan sales, because I love a good sale,  but, I was put off by it enough that I switched back to wanting a scandal free Foxy.  Foxy’s only “scandal” it seems is slow production and turn around time, and a store that’s only open for minutes a day.

What?  The store is only open for a few minutes a day?  The big difference between Foxy Fix and Chic Sparrow is that Foxy Fix allows for customization – stitching, different pockets, embossing, spine reinforcement, etc.  Chic Sparrow does embossing, but stitching, pockets, the rest of it, are standard.  So, Foxy Fix naturally takes longer to ship than a Chic Sparrow.  Now that I have both, I really don’t see any difference in quality – its just a matter of how much control you want over your finished product.  Foxy Fix also has an option for a “wide” version of each size.  A compact version will hold about four notebooks, a wide, six or more.  But, because of the customization, and the desire to keep turn around time to between 5-10 (although, I think they may have upped it to 10-20 days), Foxy Fix limits the number of customized orders, and when they hit their limit, they shut down.  They do sometimes have notebook sets that are in stock – but you can’t customize them at all.

So, I twiddled my thumbs and waited for Foxy to get back online, I think it was the first week of January.  Of course, as soon as they did, the site crashed, and they sold out within minutes.  As an apology gesture I guess, they put up a sale of mystery misfits Foxy’s – notebooks that had small flaws, or they couldn’t sell for whatever reason.  I managed to get in on the sale, and picked a cahier sized wide – and I figured, I’ll probably be happy with whatever I get as long as it’s not purple.

And then, I got a purple one.  I really dislike purple.  I’m good with a pinky violet, or magenta (although not in leather ), but straight up grape ape purple is not for me.

This was the first one:

I also didn’t want to go with the one strap on a wide, and as you can see this is just a single strap.  And this is Foxy’s Moccasin leather – it’s sooo soooo soft, but it’s very very floppy, with almost no structure.  A lot of people got Moccasin in the mystery sale, and I think it’s because they don’t sell them like this anymore – if you get a Moccasin notebook, it automatically comes with a reinforced spine – an extra piece of leather sewn up the back for more structure.  Anyway, I sold this on Facebook in about five seconds for the price I bought it for, which was about 1/2 of what it normally costs since it was a mystery.

So, then I had to decide if I was going to deal with the store being only open at 11 a.m., until they sold out.  I decided I had waited this long, I might as well continue to wait, and about a week after it initially opened, on 1/16, I managed to get into the store, and place my order for a wide Rowena, with side stitching and pockets, no embossing.  I figured as long as it wasn’t personalized, if I hated it, I could always sell it.

Then, the next round of waiting took over.  The turn around time was 5-10 business days.  1/16 was a holiday, so I decided to just chill, and when it came, it came.  But, then I got a shipping notice on the 25th, and I was ecstatic – it’s coming, it’s coming!  But, it wasn’t – not according to USPS – even though I had paid for two day shipping, it sat in preshipment for days.  I kept refreshing my USPS shipping notice, checking my email for updates, etc., and I was making myself crazy.  I felt torn about contact Foxy, because based on the FB page, I knew that everyone, everyday is like, where’s my Foxy, until I finally contacted Foxy Fix’s customer service.  My experience with Foxy Fix was  . . . internet age I guess.  I emailed them on a Saturday, and by Monday afternoon, I still hadn’t gotten an answer.  So, I posted on the FB page.  Within seconds, I got a response that the customer service woman was checking on my order, and waiting for a text back from their shipping department.  I figured, she’s waiting for a text, I’ll hear something in an hour or so, or whatever, and then nothing.  So, I posted on FB again, and nothing.  And then I emailed, and got a response back the same day.  My order had been lost, they were remaking it and shipping it the same day, and as soon as she had a shipping confirmation number, she’d send it to me.  She also gave me a 10 percent discount code for my next purchase.  And, because I obviously hadn’t gotten my 2 day shipping, she refunding the entire shipping amount.  Then, I got nothing, and I waited.   Then, the next day, I got an email from shipping that my dashboard order had been cancelled because they were out of them, and again, I got another 10 percent discount code.   But, I didn’t get any shipping notice, or status on the actual order.  So, I emailed again, a bit huffy this time I think, and I got an email saying that the notebook had shipped out yesterday, and here’s your tracking number.  By that time, the notebook had already arrived in Philadelphia, and it would be on my doorstep the next day.  Yeah! So, it was a bummer that I missed out on the dashboard, but eh.  And, here she is – Rowena, Foxy Fix’s No. 7 in wide:

I have to say, I took my good old time opening it – I was really worried I’d have that seem feeling of meh that I did when I opened the grape ape one. But, no, this one was totally perfect – meet Rowena:

Here she is next to my old, faithful faux dori. Rowena is a sturdy, thick leather, that has a wax coating, and a slight sheen to it.  Every piece is different, and some are more shiny than others.  I’d say mine is mildly shiny.  Here’s the inside:

As you can see, it’s about 3x as thick as my original, it has secretarial pockets on both sides, and it is significantly wider than my original.  You can’t see it too clearly, but the inside of the notebook does not quite feel like traditional leather, and there was some chatter on the Facebook group that maybe this wasn’t real leather.  Believe me, it’s real leather – it smells like leather, it feels like leather – it feels like they just skinned it off the cow, frankly.  And, apparently, the explanation is that the hide is actually much thicker, and it’s cut against the grain, in half, to make it thinner, and appropriate for making stuff like notebooks and other leather goods.  This cutting against the grain is what causes that fabric like feel to the inside.  I love it.  And, I love the stitching on the reinforced spine.

Here are my May Design Books, that I’ve been waiting and waiting to use since the failed purple notebook:

Of course, after I bought them, and was excited to use them, I read on some forum somewhere that they’re not fountain pen friendly.  So, I did a little experiment:

This is the backside of a written on calendar page.  The fountain pen definitely has the most ghosting, but it doesn’t smear, and it doesn’t absorb right into the page making ink blobs or anything like that.  I’m ok with a bit of ghosting – it’s just a calendar.  And, I do love my fountain pen.

Since, I didn’t get my Foxy Fix dashboard, I made a few of my own.  Instead of laminating, I used a 12 x 12 scrapbook page, and with my Fuse Tool, I traced around a May book, leaving about an 3/4′ between the pockets.  So, my pockets are toploading, and I can switch out the paper.

Of course, one always has to be my sentencing guidelines.  Very exciting, I know.

And the other is just decorative, and it houses the notebooks I printed from AnniePlansPrintables on Etsy – there’s a Happy Mail Tracker, an Address Book, and an Online Purchase Tracker:

The only problem is – now that I have all of these little notebooks, what do I need my bullet journal for – each collection in my bullet journal now has it’s own notebook, and my to do lists are now in my May Designs Daily Planner book, that polka dot book above.  I guess I’ll figure it out as I go, because I’m not taking it out – the notebook will totally deflate without the bullet journal.

Which brings me back around to the beginning -should I have resized?  This notebook is really a doorstop.  I love love love it, but it takes up most of my purse, and I really had all of the information I needed in less notebooks before.

I’ll continue to ponder this dilemma as I see how things work out.  Back to the traditional size?  Or sized up, but in a compact not a wide?

Why can’t I just enjoy what I have before I start thinking about what’s next?


Anyway, should you buy a Fox Fix?  The product is awesome, really – but you’ll have to wait.  And wait.  First, there’s the struggle of hitting the website at exactly the right time.  I’ve seen people on Facebook fail day after day after day.  And, if you succeed, the turn around time is 10-20 days.  So, between attempting to purchase and receiving your notebook, expect about a month.  If you can wait, it’s worth it.

If you just can’t wait, and if you can get past the idea that Chic Sparrow copied someone’s drawing, and put it on a notebook, then buy a Chic Sparrow; she f’d up. I do really respect artist’s work, and copyrights, but I’m just kind of willing to give her the benefit of the doubt that she f-d up, and wouldn’t do it again.  Maybe I’m just rationalizing, because I think I probably would buy from her, since I really do love my Mr. Darcy, and would love to try a different leather from her.  I don’t know.  Her product is lovely, her business might just not be what you want it to be.

If you have any questions about any of this, I’d be happy to answer them!  I love talking about my notebook!


Fauxdori Fix Up

So, you may remember, I started the year off all moved into my Fauxdori planner from Dokkipaper.  I was all about minimalism – the craft paper inserts that came with the notebook cover, my own photos as decoration –



That was it.  That is, until I got sucked down the planner hole interweb.  Here’s the thing though, this planner community -I’m seeing a lot of decorating, but not any actual planning.  Part of that, I assume, is because the actual planning is private, and people don’t post photos of their daily agendas.  However, that’s not always the case – there are plenty of “before the pen” and “after the pen” shots – that’s the lingo, by the way.  And, yep, I’m one of those people, that if you post a photo of your planner filled out, I’m going to read what’s on the page – not because I care what you’re doing, or want to invade your privacy (that you’ve put out there anyway), but I’m just curious.  And, some of this planning is stuff like “take shower,” “make dinner” “plan tomorrow.”

Rather than be my totally judgmental self, I’ve just come to accept from my planner voyeurism that the word “planning” just has a different meaning these days.  Planning in a planner can mean anything from simply decorating (those plan with me videos all over youtube), to memory keeping, to list making, to actual planning in the traditional sense – goal setting, to do’s and a calendar/scheduler.

Anyway, I do like a little pretty, and I decided the old Fauxdori could use a makeover.  So, while Joe was sick last week, and I felt guilty just leaving him in the t.v. room by himself playing his video games, I signed up for Christy Tomlinson and the Reset Girl’s little workshop, The Creative Planner.  Of course, there are a gazillion free videos on youtube, but for the most part, they’re a mixed bag, and you don’t know if you’ve found a really organized, informative video or a babblefest until it’s too late.  So, for $35 I invested in hours worth of well edited, organized videos, got in depth reviews of every planner out there, and watched some really helpful tutorials on how to pimp my Fauxdori.


So, the first thing I did was ditch the calendar insert I was using, and I downloaded this one from Happy Digital Download.  The calendar that I ditched had a monthly view, a weekly view, and daily views.  Way too much.  I don’t enjoy writing the same things down over and over.  So, I was originally only going to go with the monthly view, but I really liked the weekly view that matched, so I bought that too, and created a separate insert for my weekly planning.

Printing out inserts online for the Midori sized notebook is kind of mystery, even after watching videos.  All you really need to do is open up the insert, print it, and trim it, allegedly.  But, if you print it out the way the PDF opens – in a landscape mode on 8 1/2 – 11 paper, you have to trim both sides of the insert – the top and the bottom.  I find that if I print on the 8 1/2 x 11 in portrait mode, and fold it in half, I only have to trim the top.  So, what I do is create a blank document in photoshop, open the PDF of the purchased insert in the program, which will open as PNG, move the PNG to the new page, and resize it to fit in portrait mode.  Then, I print them double sided, and fold them in half.  Before I trim, I find something I’m going to use as a cover – for these inserts, I used the perforated pretty paper that came in the last issue of Flow magazine, punch 3 holes in the spine with an awl, sew it up in pamphlet stitch, and then I take one of the original Midori brand inserts I have, line it up where I want to cut the insert, and with my quilting rotary cutter, I trim away the paper.  It takes more than one pass with the rotary cutter to trim the paper, so it’s important to keep your hand firmly on top of the notebooks, so that they don’t move around and you get a crooked cut.  But, this way, you’re only really trimming the top (or top and bottom if you need to center your cover).  Sometimes, because of the bulk created when the paper folds, you have to trim the side too, but that’s just a teensy bit.

After I made the new inserts, I switched out the felt business card holder you see above, and bought the plastic zipper/business card combo instead.  I  filled the zip with some stickers and some washi, and I have my little bit of pretty if I want it.

Then, I went totally planner cuckoo and made a dashboard!  The Amazon laminator is only $20, and can also be used to do that gold foiling that’s so popular these days.  So, I bought the laminator, and made this:


I cut the Flow magazine paper the same size as the insert covers.  I left space in the middle so that it could wrap around my other notebooks, and I sent it through the laminator.  Voila!


Here’s the flip side – because everyone needs a laminated sentencing guidelines matrix in their planner, right?  Well, I do.  Most people make a dashboard so they can see something pretty when they open their planner, or something inspirational, and because it’s laminated, they can put sticky notes and page flags and washi, and it can all be removable.  I honestly just wanted a laminated sentencing guidelines.  I can’t take the whole planner into the prison with me, but I can take that one laminated sheet.  And, if someone in court wants to see my guidelines, which happens all the time, the paper is protected, won’t fray, and isn’t attached to the rest of my planner, so whoever’s borrowing it won’t see my secret stuff.  You can see, sort of, I notched the laminate a bit where the elastic fits in.  You can’t see it very well in the photo, but for those of you who don’t know, fauxdori inserts are held into the notebook cover with elastic, and that makes it easy to use a notebook and replace it.  The traditional Midori brand Travelers Notebook has one elastic, like my fauxdori.  You can buy notebook covers with additional elastics, but I think, if you know how to put the notebooks in, the one elastic actually makes more sense, but that’s just a matter of personal preference.  The elastic has a bottom strand, and a top one.  You can’t put anything under the bottom strand, that will make your notebook buckle.  Rather, you slip the inserts in between the two strands of elastic, with one resting on the bottom, and the other one holding the inserts in place.

Next, I slipped in the plastic zip pouch:


This slips in under the top elastic band, on top of the dashboard. Next, I rehabbed the craft file, which I forgot to photograph separately.  You can see it above in the group photo – I laminated the outside of it with the cute cartoon girl going about her business, the inside stayed the same.  The only reason I laminated the outside was because the folder is kind of falling apart because I’ve shoved too much in it, and because I wanted to play with my new laminator.

Next, here are the inserts I made with the Flow paper and the digital downloads:


This is the back of one insert, the front of the other, and they are rubberbanded together through middle of their respective spines.

These two rubberbanded inserts slip under that main elastic, right on top of the craft folder I forgot to photograph.  The girl reading is my monthly insert:


And that’s about as crazy as I get with decoration.  Next set are again rubberbanded together, and slipped under that main band:


The first is my weekly view, and the second is a travel planner I made for our trip in two weeks.



Two stickers, that’s my decoration. And then finally, the bullet journal gets slipped in through the middle under the main elastic.


And here’s what it looks like all closed up:


It is kind of like magic how they all fit in there.  I’m almost done with that bullet journal, which is just really a gridded to do list, and the Midori brand, which I have on deck to replace it, is much thinner than this one that can with my Dokkipaper Dori, so it will all close even better.  For our trip to London, I’m going to take it out anyway and replace it with a blank journal.  I probably won’t take my calendars either.  I may put in another zip pouch for receipts and things, since the zip pouch came I a pack of three.  We’ll see.

So, that’s my latest planner set up.  Tomorrow, or soon, let’s just say that, I’ll talk about my new “memory planner,” how I’m using that, and why that would never ever replace my Dokkipaper Dori.

Basic CMYK