Notebook Review: Life Stationery Noble Note

photo of the Life Noble Note coverI haven’t done many paper reviews, and it’s nearly three years since I’ve done a notebook specific article. So, it’s either about time, or I have so little experience it’s a waste of time to read it. You’ve been warned.

I’ve liked Life Stationery notebooks and paper since I first used them years ago. If I remember correctly, I came across it at Nanami Paper when buying a Seven Seas Writer. I’ve always had a hard time finding Life stationery from U.S. retailers. While it is more available these days, there are so many Life Stationery products that there’s little product consistency between retailers. Even before COVID, it was always a crapshoot that Life notebooks and paper would be in stock. So when the Andersons mention on their podcast that Life notebooks were back in stock, I went to their site to take a look.

I ended up ordering some stationery (paper & envelopes) along with a couple notebooks. The Noble Note wire-bound notebook was included in that order.

The bright colors caught my eye. For the Noble line of notebooks, plain paper covers are brown, lined paper covers are blue, and graph (aka section) paper is orange. Once the cover caught my eye, the size pulled me in. It was listed as 3 X 5 but, they are actually 3.15″ X 5″. That extra 0.15″ is used by the wire binding. The useable area is 3 X 5. I also like wire-bound notebooks for many uses. They take up less space, but at the expense of making it harder to write on the left side (I’m right-handed.)

Graph ruling is my least favorite type of paper. I find the grid distracting, and it can often interfere with fountain pen ink. Despite that, I picked it in this case because I liked the orange cover best, plus the description and photos indicated the grid was very light. I was not going to use this notebook for extensive writing, so there wasn’t much risk. Between the wire binding, the graph ruling, and the thin paper, I expected to only write on one side of each sheet.

The notebooks have 40 sheets. (Currently, the text on the Anderson Pens listing says 30 pages.) The cover is thick paper, with the Life brand embossed, and a printed decorative border. The specs, product number, and some Japanese text are also on the cover. The metal wire rings are black. Overall, I like the look. The notebook has held up well while traveling in my computer bag.

I really like the 85gsm ivory-colored paper, both in its look and the way it performs. (Some retailers call this cream-colored.) The coating makes it nice and smooth, although not as slick as Rhodia paper. To me, it feels similar to Tomoe River paper and has a similar dry time.

I only had bleed through with a Sharpie. This was total bleed through, with ink soaking through to the next page. The thickest fountain pen I used, with a Sailor Zoom nib, didn’t bleed through at all. Dry time was as expected, which means not fast. I do have to be careful about turning the page. If this was a larger notebook, I’d keep a piece of blotter paper in the notebook. But because this is just for checklists, I don’t bother. I just wait before turning a page.

photo showing bleed-through

Since the paper is thin, there is significant show-through (ghosting). Between this and the grid ruling, I only write on one side of the page. This was as expected.

How I’m Using the Life Noble Note 3 X 5 Notebook

I’ve been using the notebook to keep some checklists. The checklists are either ones that I’ll want to work through multiple times or will take me several days (or weeks) to work through.

Examples include:
* Posts that I still need to write for my newer pen arrivals.
* Movie series that I’m working through in order. For these, I may watch the movies again in the future, so I use the grid boxes to check off when I watched that title. I use the next column for future viewings. I may be optimistic in thinking I’ll be able to find the notebook in the coming years.
* Checklist for a current project where I also need to take short notes. (No photo for this one as the info is confidential). This makes it easier for me to find the checklist and notes as I work on the project over a few days. This is a case where I do use the facing page for notes even though there’s costing. I used a thin Japanese extra-fine nib.

Wrapping Up.

I liked the Life Noble Note so much that I bought two more of the notebooks with graph ruling and another one with blank pages. The wire binding makes them useful to me, as I often like to have the notebook right next to the keyboard. Wirebound notebooks let me fold them over and have my note right against the keyboard. In this case, it also makes an already small notebook take even less desk space.

At $6 each, they aren’t the cheapest option. But, the Noble Notes are durable and have a high-quality fountain pen friendly paper.

A big two thumbs up.

Gallery

Paper & Notebook Declutter #3

Entries are closed. Recipients have been notified.

This will be the third (and last for now) notebook decluttering. This will work as follows (paper is heavy, so delivery within the United States only).

I’ve filled a medium flat rate box with pads and paper as shown below. The recipient agrees to pay $30 via PayPal send money to friends (or Square Cash if you don’t have PayPal). This covers postage and a little for gas and time but exceeds the cost of the notebooks.

If you want the box of paper/notebooks for $30 then:

  1. Leave a comment below. Use a valid email address in the comment (it is not shown and will not be shared) so that I can contact you for shipping information. Leave the comment before noon Eastern U.S. time on Monday, March 12th. One request (comment) per person, please. Leave the comment in the email field on the comment, not in the comment itself.
  2. The comments will be numbered and I’ll pick a recipient using a random number generator. I’ll contact the recipient via email and they’ll have 2 days to contact me with their shipping address.
  3. I’ll send out the package when I’m near the post office so it could be a couple of days. I’ll email when the package is on the way.
  4. After successful receipt of the notebooks please pay me $30 via PayPal send money to friends (or other agreed method).

The box contains the following notebooks/pads.

Contents of Paper Declutterr #3

This one is heavy on Doane Paper which used grid & lines as ruling. (I reviewed Doane Paper here) The white paper on the bottom left is Tomoe River, there’s also several packs of writing paper. G. Lalo is shown but I think thee’s some Crown Mill below it. There’s also some Levenger Circa and Staples Arc paper and accessories. Some loose paper may have a couple sheets missing that were used and some of the notebooks may have writing (like pen testing) on a couple of pages.

Just to try and anticipate questions:

  • Please don’t ask about specific notebooks, I’ve already sealed the box and don’t remember anything not mentioned above.
  • Payment before shipping is frowned upon (although I appreciate the offer). This way if anything happens during shipment I don’t have to worry about a refund. If the package doesn’t arrive or is not as described just let me know and don’t pay. There won’t be any replacement for loss or damage.
  • If I’m late picking the recipient and you sneak a comment in after noon it will still be included. Any comment made before I pick the winner (and close off comments) will be valid.

Notebook & Paper Declutter #2

Entries are closed. Recipients have been notified.

My ink decluttering went well and I think the ink went to people who can use and appreciate it. Now it’s time to do the same with paper. This will work as follows (paper is heavy, so delivery within the United States only).

I’ve filled a large flat rate box with pads and paper as shown below. The recipient agrees to pay $40 via PayPal send money to friends (or Square Cash if you don’t have PayPal). This covers postage and a little for gas and time but exceeds the cost of the notebooks. (Some of the notebooks are large so a large flat rate box was required, so there’s more paper in this one.)

If you want the box of paper/notebooks for $40 then:

  1. Leave a comment below. Use a valid email address in the comment (it is not shown and will not be shared) so that I can contact you for shipping information. Leave the comment before noon Eastern U.S. time on Monday, March 12th. One request (comment) per person, please. Leave the comment in the email field on the comment, not in the comment itself.
  2. The comments will be numbered and I’ll pick a recipient using a random number generator. I’ll contact the recipient via email and they’ll have 2 days to contact me with their shipping address.
  3. I’ll send out the package when I’m near the post office so it could be a couple of days. I’ll email when the package is on the way.
  4. After successful receipt of the notebooks please pay me $40 via PayPal send money to friends (or other agreed method).

The box contains the following notebooks/pads.

Contents of the box for Ink Decluttering #2

This one is has a lot of Rhodia. There’s some Rhodia #16 A5 Dotpads. That red notebook is Moleskine as are the three notebooks under it. Some Exacompta index cards are missing and some notebooks may missing (or have writing on) a page or two.

Just to try and anticipate questions:

  • Please don’t ask about specific notebooks, I’ve already sealed the box and don’t remember anything not mentioned above.
  • Payment before shipping is frowned upon (although I appreciate the offer). This way ff anything happens during shipment I don’t have to worry about a refund. If the package doesn’t arrive or is not as described just let me know and don’t pay. There won’t be any replacement for loss or damage.
  • If I’m late picking the recipient and you sneak a comment in after noon it will still be included. Any comment made before I pick the winner (and close off comments) will be valid.
  • I have more notebooks to declutter. Since the recipient is random you can ask for multiple boxes, but there’s no discount. The boxes are already chock full and sealed.

Notebook & Paper Declutter #1

Entries are closed. Recipients have been notified.

My ink decluttering went well and I think the ink went to people who can use and appreciate it. Now it’s time to do the same with paper. This will work as follows (paper is heavy, so delivery within the United States only).

I’ve filled a medium flat rate box with pads and paper as shown below. The recipient agrees to pay $30 via PayPal send money to friends (or Square Cash if you don’t have PayPal). This covers postage and a little for gas and time but exceeds the cost of the notebooks.

If you want the box of paper/notebooks for $30 then:

  1. Leave a comment below. Use a valid email address in the comment (it is not shown and will not be shared) so that I can contact you for shipping information. Leave the comment before noon Eastern U.S. time on Monday, March 12th. One request (comment) per person, please. Leave the comment in the email field on the comment, not in the comment itself.
  2. The comments will be numbered and I’ll pick a recipient using a random number generator. I’ll contact the recipient via email and they’ll have 2 days to contact me with their shipping address.
  3. I’ll send out the package when I’m near the post office so it could be a couple of days. I’ll email when the package is on the way.
  4. After successful receipt of the notebooks please pay me $30 via PayPal send money to friends (or other agreed method).

The box contains the following notebooks/pads.Contents of Notebook Declutter Box 1

This one is heavy on Doane Paper which used grid & lines as ruling. (I reviewed Doane Paper here) The other will vary. The white paper on the bottom left is Tomoe River, there’s also two packs of G.Lalo writing paper. Some loose paper may have a couple sheets missing that were used and some of the notebooks may have writing (like pen testing) on a couple of pages.

Just to try and anticipate questions:

  • Please don’t ask about specific notebooks, I’ve already sealed the box and don’t remember anything not mentioned above.
  • Payment before shipping is frowned upon (although I appreciate the offer). This way if anything happens during shipment I don’t have to worry about a refund. If the package doesn’t arrive or is not as described just let me know and don’t pay. There won’t be any replacement for loss or damage.
  • If I’m late picking the recipient and you sneak a comment in after noon it will still be included. Any comment made before I pick the winner (and close off comments) will be valid.
  • I have more notebooks to declutter. Since the recipient is random you can ask for multiple boxes, but there’s no discount. The boxes are already chock full and sealed.

What I Use: 2018 Planner Plans

Hobonichi Techo Weeks Planner One Week Spread with ribbonI seem unable to learn that I’m not a paper planner guy. So, I’ll again be starting the year with a paper planner. My somewhat haphazard approach to picking the planner doesn’t bode well for my success. I’ll go on the record with my plans so that I can see how quickly and thoroughly I fail. (My confidence is underwhelming.)

I bought a Hobonichi Techo (A6 sized) from Jet Pens late in the buying season. I also threw in a Hobonichi Techo Weeks because I liked the coffee bean cover and I figured it’s similarities to my Traveler weekly planner would allow it to be my fallback plan and possibly serve as a daily log. Shortly after they arrived, I had pretty much swapped my ideas and the Weeks will be my planner while the A6 Techo will be a journal/log.

The Weeks starts in December, so I’ve already been using it a bit. I’ll cover the Hobonichi Weeks in this post and save the A6 Techo for another post.

The Hobonichi Techo Weeks is a smaller version (as far as the layout goes) go the Travelers Weekly Planner with which I’ve had some success. Each two-page spread has the days on the left page with the right page being black (well, grid ruled but wide open for writing). The weekly page with Monday and ends with Sunday as any good planner should. Saturday and Sunday are full-fledged days and get the same space as every other day. The month, the day of the week and numbers are all in English while the rest is in Japanese. I don’t read Japanese, so the quotes on each page along with the rest of the text is useless for me, but there’s enough English to make the planner useable.

As I said, I’ve been using the Weeks in December, and it’s been going well, although the paper planner habit has yet to take hold and become a matter of routine.

The blank right page gets a list of what I want to work on during the week. I avoid “planning” too far ahead, so I may list items for the following week but never more than a week in advance. I learned that if I get too far ahead, I’ll have more cross-outs than actual tasks by the time the week arrives. I usually fill out this list on Sunday night. The blank right page also gets used for checklists and notes.

Little of what I do requires that it be done on a specific day although it does need to be done by a particular day. Again, to avoid too many cross-outs I don’t fill out a day on the left until the day before when I’m planning the next day (the last task in my workday is to prepare for the next day). I may fill in specific things in advance if I’m confident that they won’t change but it’s rare.

I still use an electronic calendar for any appointments, and these get transferred to paper either during my Sunday night planning session or my end of day planning session. The transfer is not as involved or time-consuming as it sounds since I have very few calendar based events.

While I’m a long-time user of OmniFocus, I’ve been trying to wean myself off of it. That said, I’ve been unsuccessful and have continued to use it. I’ll plan out the steps in an OmniFocus project and merely refer to it in my Weeks planner, leaving the details to be looked up and managed in OmniFocus. Using OmniFocus may also help me stick to a paper planner since I’ll be fighting against fewer ingrained habits.

Hobonichi Techo Weeks Planner

A highly reflective transparent cover

I did get some accessories once I decided to try and stick with the Weeks. I picked up a transparent cover. Just in time, it seems, as JetPens no longer carries it. I typically skip covers, but the clear one still lets me see the coffee bean cover that I like so much. It gives me a sleeve inside both the front and back covers where I can slip papers. There’s also an inside pocket on both the front and back covers suitable for business cars or similar items, like the small Nock Co. index cards. The back cover has a pocket that can help secure larger slips of paper.

I also picked up a “writing board” sized for the Weeks to give me a hard surface to write on. It has a tab up top labeled “today” which I cut off. I didn’t like it sticking up, and I never used it to mark the current week. The Weeks has two ribbons that can mark the current week. I already had a blotter card that coincidentally matched the size of the weeks. The blotter card made the writing board superfluous since it was stiff enough to write on. It’s heavy paper with a blotter on one side and a picture on the other.

The Weeks using 52gsm Tomoe River cream colored paper so its fountain pen friendly but very thin. There is show through, not only for what I write but also for the pre-printed calendar. “Fountain Open Friendly” usually means slow drying, and that’s the case here which is why I carry blotter paper with it. I should also stick to thin nibs for faster drying and less show through, but so far I’ve just used whatever fountain pen is handy.

Hobonichi Techo Weeks Planner Note Year at a GlanceThe Weeks includes monthly calendars (one month per two-page spread) up front and 68 grid-ruled memo pages in the back which I’ve yet to use. There are also two year-at-a-glance calendars up front, one of which takes up a two-page spread and may be useful for planning or tracking, provided you don’t need to write much.

The Hobonichi Weeks is smaller than the Travelers notebook. The Weeks is 3.7” (9.5 cm) by 7.4” (18.8 cm), so it’s much easier to carry. It does fit into many of my pockets, more or less. It is tall and thick, a little taller and thicker with the cover. It fits in my pocket well enough so that I can carry it from point A to point B and still have my hands free. It also takes up less room in my Nock Co. Lanier. Now that winter is here, and the bigger pockets of winter jackets and shirts that come along with it, the planner is even more comfortable to carry. The fact that I can bring it with me more often has translated into me using it more. I don’t have to write things down one place and transfer them to the planner at some future time.

Hobonichi Techo Weeks Planner with BandsTo keep the Weeks closed securely I’ve been experimenting with a Field Notes rubber band and a large rubber band, both of which I already had in a drawer. The large band is easier to take on and off while also allowing me to slip a receipt or slip of paper into the notebook without taking it off. The Field Notes Band is easier to stash in my pocket when I remove it. Both are shown in the photo, but I only use one at a time and have yet to develop a preference.

That’s my 2018 Planner Plans. Let’s see how they stand up to the test of time and my ingrained habits.