2018 has been an interesting year in stationery for me. I’ve been doing this whole pen blogging thing for a long time now, and admittedly things start to seem the same. “New” items are older items, just in a different color way. Kickstarter is full of gimmicky items (there are some gems) that don’t improve upon something, just muddy it further. I mean, I get it. There’s only so many ways that you can change the functionality and features of a pen or notebook before getting in the way of their primary functions. I guess where I’m going is that I’ve become kind of set in my ways. I’ve experienced a bunch of pens, paper, inks, and accessories and I know what I like. This guide is just that. The tried-and-true stuff that I reach for day in and day out. I’ve thrown in a few non-stationery items that have made a meaningful impact on my life (okay, that might be a little extreme) for good measure to. Read on to check out some of my most-used items in 2018 so far!
I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again. The Lamy 2000 is my favorite fountain pen. Modern, yet timeless design paired with the large ink reservoir, and durable materials make for an excellent pen. I’ve had this one for 5 1/2 years and it hasn’t let me down yet. Worth noting, I did get the medium nib tuned by Richard Binder. It writes a nice and wet medium line that’s silky smooth with a rather large sweet spot. It remains my favorite pen after reviewing and handling hundreds of others. It’s hard to mess with this classic!
This is my second Hobonichi Techo. I’ve never really been much for journaling until I decided to give one of these a try back in 2017. The A6 sized book is printed on smooth, fountain pen-friendly Tomoe River Paper. While it looks thin, the paper holds up to fountain pen, marker, ballpoint, and rollerball ink surprisingly well. There’s a page for each day of the year with a grid layout. On the bottom of each page, you’ll find a quote of the day too – a nice little touch. I’ll spend a few minutes each morning filling out what I did the day before. While this year I had a few months of slacking off, it’s cool to flip back and see what I did on any given day. I like the smaller A6 format enough to snag one every year. If you’re thinking about picking one up, I’d move fast. In previous years, they’ve sold out. Now’s a great time to make the switch…
If you’re going to be using the same notebook every day for an entire year, you better protect that thing. The A6 Hobonichi Cover from One Star Leather goods is now in its second year of protecting my daily journal. Crafted from premium Horween / Herman Oak leather, this journal cover is truly buy-it-for-life. Keegan over at One Star is a master of his craft, making each cover to order. You can pick which leather you want (inside and out) as well as the color of stitching. There are add-on options for bookmarks, pen loops, card pockets, and much more. As you can see, the leather has taken on some nice character over the past two years, but still has PLENTY of life left in it. At the time of publishing, One Star is running a sale on their entire store. At a hair over $55, this cover is an incredible value.
Prior to this year, I haven’t heard of Kunisawa. This Japanese stationery brand makes some really nice looking notebooks. For the past few months the “FIND” Ring Notebook has been living on my desk at work. The solid twin ring binding, rigid cover, and copper edged pages result in a classy notebook that’s as perfect for quick notes as it is in a meeting. The off-white pages feature a grid ruling and play nice with a variety of pens. If you’re looking for something outside of the now-standard Rhodia or Mnemosine, the Kunisawa line is definitely worth your attention.
I have only regularly used two fountain pen inks this year. Nope, I’m not kidding. Diamine’s Gray and the wonderful shade of dark teal that is Robert Oster’s “Fire and Ice”. Robert Oster’s nature-inspired inks are made in small batches in Australia. While it’s not the most budget-friendly ink out there at $17 for 50ml, it’s a stunner. The ink plays nice in all of the pens I’ve used it with, but really shines in the wet medium Lamy 2000 I spoke so highly of in the passage above. If blue is your favorite ink color, then this is a must-have.
Yup, a pencil made the list. While I don’t typically reach for these graphite-laden writing utensils, the extremely sturdy Tactile Turn Pencil has changed my mind a bit. If you’re familiar with Will Hodges’ pens, you’ll recognize the signature grooved pattern that runs the length of the pen and his rock-solid stainless steel clips. This bolt-action pencil features a reliable internal mechanism from Schmidt that’s available in 0.5mm or 0.7mm. After a successful Kickstarter project, these pencils are now available to purchase with immediate shipping. Will is also running a Black Friday deal that will save you 20% with the code “BLACKFRIDAY”. Each pencil is made in the USA by Tactile Turn in their Texas-based workshop.
I have to admit, I was one of those people that thought these were the stupidest thing ever when they came out. Boy, was I wrong. I’ve been a lifelong fan of the silicone tipped style of earbuds, but the AirPods changed my mind. Why? They just simply work. There’s no fussing. Take them out of the case, pop em in, and they’re ready to go. Even though they look like they’d fall out, I have yet to have it happen to me. Again, I didn’t think they’d be so good for working out, but whether I’m in the boxing gym, or on the treadmill, they simply stay put. While the sound quality isn’t by any means audiophile grade, they can hold their own for a wide range of music. The little features like automatically pausing the music when you take one out, customizable double-tap gestures, and the ability to use on phone calls make them one of my daily essentials.
I wrote an article a few years back about switching from a mechanical watch to the Apple Watch. Since then, I’ve switched back to mechanical (taking somewhat of a deep dive into the world of watches) and haven’t looked back. The first generation of Apple Watch just wasn’t reliable and it was slow. Something that’s supposed to make your day easier should be easy to interact with and the first version wasn’t. In my opinion, Apple hit it out of the park with the new Series 4. The case is sleeker, despite the screen being larger. The activity and workout tracking features have been greatly improved, and as a guy with a heart problem, I’m intrigued by the upcoming ECG feature. I opted for the cellular version so I could leave my phone at home while running out. After a decade of carrying a phone it was a weird, yet liberating feeling to leave my phone behind. Today, I’m more in tune with the amount of screen time I’m spending, and the Apple Watch allows me to leave my phone across the room and customize notifications to only deliver what I deem important directly to my wrist. The hardware and software are both excellent. While I’m absolutely in love with my Omega Speedmaster, there’s something so cool and tech-y about looking down at my wrist and seeing the weather, sunset time, and whether or not I’ve moved enough throughout the day. Between the AirPods and the Watch, I’ve been spending less time on my phone, and man it feels good.
There you have it! This is my favorite stuff from the past year. Is there anything you’ve been carrying, new or old, that’s stood out to you? Let me know in the comments below!
This post contains some affiliate links. Should you purchase an item through one of the links, a small portion of the sale goes to edjelley.com. This doesn’t make anything more expensive for you, it’s just like a small finder’s fee for me that is put towards new stuff to review and general website maintenance costs.