Thoughts

That “new moleskine feeling”-It has been around for a while.

A new Moleskine with fresh doodles

I’ve been taking French classes for a few years, and lately we’ve been reading the play “Fanny,” by Marcel Pagnol. (The author of the novels that became the wonderful films Jean de Florette and Manon de Sources.) There’s a scene in Fanny where a group of men are chatting in a cafe and one of them calls another “commodore de la moleskine.” It’s obviously a teasing insult, so I imagined it as the 1930’s France equivalent of saying “you’re a poser who just sits in cafes with your little moleskine.” I found this reference to the line in an online French dictionary, which explains that the character is a supposed sailor, but really is just an “admiral of the cafe seat, commander of the moleskine”:

COMMODORE : Définition de COMMODORE

————start quote————

COMMODORE, subst. masc.COMMODORE, subst. masc.

A.− [Dans les marines britannique, américaine et néerlandaise] Capitaine de vaisseau commandant une division navale. Épée de commodore. En face, une sorte de commodore américain, boulot et trapu, les chairs boucanées et le nez en bulbe, s’endormait (Huysmans, À rebours, 1884, p. 176#.

− Par dérision [Appliqué à un marin qui passe sa vie dans les cafés] M. Escartefigue, amiral de banquettes de café, commodore de la Moleskine #Pagnol, Fanny, 1932, I, 1er tabl., 1, p. 11#.

B.− P. méton. Vaisseau d’un commodore #cf. Crèvecœur, Voyage dans la Haute Pensylvanie, t. 1, 1801, p. 198).

————– end quote—————-

I then decided to look for a definition of the word “moleskine” in that same website and found this:

————–start quote—————–

MOLESKINE, MOLESQUINE, subst. fém.

A. − Étoffe de coton très fort présentant une face croisée et qui servait à faire notamment des doublures de vêtements d’hommes. Le Monsieur en habit de moleskine, qui regarde son bracelet-montre et ne quitte plus son tabouret de bar jusqu’à la sortie (Cocteau, Théâtre poche, 1949, p.17). Moleskine. − Croisé très fort. Combinaison de tissage donnant d’un côté l’aspect satin et au revers, l’aspect croisé (Thiébaut, Fabric. tissus, 1961, p.71).

B. − Toile de coton recouverte d’un enduit, mat ou verni, qui lui donne l’aspect du cuir qu’elle imite. Sur la molesquine d’une banquette, La Guillaumette et Croquebol s’étaient affalés côte à côte (Courteline, Train 8 h 47, 1888, 2e part., 7, p.171). Un divan de moleskine, moelleux comme un lit (Martin du G., Devenir, 1909, p.187). Il me souvient encore des premières sensations de ma vie scolaire: l’odeur spécifique des cahiers vierges et des moleskines cirées des cartables, le mystère des livres tout neufs (Valéry, Variété IV, 1938, p.293):

. Après avoir déjeuné de pain et de lait, à sept heures trente-cinq, comme de coutume, portant sous le bras ma serviette de molesquine, que j’avais pris soin de ne point trop bourrer de livres, je descendis l’escalier…

A. France, Vie fleur, 1922, p.320.

Prononc. et Orth.: [mɔlεskin]. Ac. 1935: moleskine; Littré, Rob.: -leskine ou -lesquine; Lar. Lang. fr.: -leskine. Prop.Catach-Golf. Orth. Lexicogr., 1971, p.206: -lesquine. Étymol. et Hist. 1. 1838 mole-skin «étoffe de velours de coton, que l’on emploie pour faire les doublures de vêtement» (Musée des Modes, p.5 ds Bonn., p.95); 2.1858 (Chesn.: Moleskine-cuir ou cuir végétal, matière qui remplace le cuir vernis pour la chaussure et les confections de la sellerie). Empr. à l’angl. moleskin, comp. de skin «peau» et mole «taupe», att. dep.1668 comme terme désignant la fourrure de peau de taupe ou toute fourrure dont le rasage des poils lui donnerait un aspect semblable et att. dep. 1803 au sens 1, la surface du tissu étant rasée au cours de la fabrication de ce velours (cf. NED). Fréq. abs. littér.: 50. Bbg. Weil (A.). En Marge d’un nouv. dict. R. Philol. fr. 1932, t. 45, p.29.

————-end quote—————

The passage I bolded jumped out at me, as it seemed to say something like “I still remember the first sensations of my school life: the specific odor of brand-new notebooks and polished moleskines from my schoolbags, the mystery of completely new books.”

On reading it more closely, I realized that it probably just refers to the “moleskine” material the schoolbag is made of– the rest of the definition talks about moleskine being a cloth or leather-like material used for clothing or furniture upholstery. So being a “commodore de la moleskine” probably just means “commander of the vinyl,” rather than anything to do with notebooks.

It’s interesting to read these quotes as showing how people’s feelings about notebooks remain unchanged over the years: some people scoffing at them as symbols of creative pretension, but for others, carrying a strong sensual association, a brand-new notebook marking a new phase of life yet to be lived. Unfortunately, that’s probably just my notebook-obsessed bias in translation! But since both of these quotes are from the 1930s, it’s a nice reminder that the term “moleskine” has been used to refer to notebooks and other items for decades, long before someone decided to trademark it.

Blog Post by Nifty. You can find out more about Nifty and her passion for notebooks at www.notebookstories.com

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Monday, May 9th, 2011 Products, Thoughts Comments Off on That “new moleskine feeling”-It has been around for a while.

Notebook Envy

I was wandering around Brooklyn on a recent weekend and surreptitiously snapped this photo:

It’s funny, but seeing this guy writing in his large Moleskine made me want one! I don’t tend to use that size these days, and I am not sure what I’d write in it. I used to use larger notebooks when I was involved in some writing workshops, but now most of my writing is either online blogging or journaling in small notebooks. There is no logical reason for me to buy a notebook like that– but I had one of those covetous moments.

I think there’s just something about other people’s notebooks– you know, that “grass is always greener” thing. Whenever I see people at work with notebooks, I kind of zone in on them. Sometimes they’re battered and bent and stained– even better! It’s like a pair of jeans– someone else’s that are totally worn in always seem nicer than the pair you already own or just bought.

Anyway, I have no idea what this guy was writing about– I’m curious but I’m not that much of a snoop! At one point, he got up to get more coffee, which allowed me to snap another photo:

The friend I was with was watching him the whole time and said he kept turning around to check on his stuff while he waited for his coffee– I wasn’t surprised. I would never leave any of my notebooks open and unattended like that in a public place, I’m way too paranoid! But I’m glad I come across other people who don’t have that hangup.

Blog entry by guest blogger Nifty from Notebookstories.com

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Monday, April 25th, 2011 Thoughts Comments Off on Notebook Envy

An Angel at my Table

I recently watched the movie An Angel at My Table. It’s a coming-of-age story about Janet Frame, a New Zealand writer who overcame not only a tough childhood but many years of being locked up in a mental institution. It’s a beautiful movie, for many reasons– you get a taste of New Zealand’s gorgeous landscapes as well as its hardscrabble sheep farming life, but mainly you see an intelligent and imaginative young girl growing up in a difficult environment.

Of course, for me one of the key moments in the movie revolves around a notebook. Janet is about 10 years old and already feels driven to write. Her father, an uneducated man himself, realizes that his daughter needs more outlets for her creativity, and one day he comes home with a surprise for her: a beautiful notebook. It’s just a wonderful scene– you see the joy in this young girl’s face and realize how special it is for her to have this notebook to write in. This would have been during the mid-1930s, when New Zealand, like everywhere else, was struggling with an economic depression, and any small personal luxury would be rare for the average person. Yet you can tell that she wouldn’t have cared about getting a doll or a dress or candy or anything as much as she cared about that notebook. And through it, you see how much her father loves and appreciates her, even if she’s a bit of a misfit and a mystery to him.

The rest of the movie chronicles her growing up and her struggles to deal with life as a woman and as a writer. It’s by no means a movie about notebooks, but that one scene is so touching and inspiring– it will make anyone who loves notebooks appreciate how much meaning they can have, especially to a child with stories she wants to tell.

Blog entry by Lovenotebooks.com guest blogger Nifty. Find out more about Nifty and her passion for notebooks at notebookstories.com

We have chosen the image of a Kikkerland’s Writersblok Notebook to accompany this Blog Post. Writersblok donates 2% of all proceeds to literacy projects for girls

Writersblok notebooks donate 2% of proceeds to literacy projects

Writersblok supports Literacy Projects

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Sunday, April 10th, 2011 Thoughts, Writing Comments Off on An Angel at my Table

Notebooks for Fountain Pen Users

Three Leuchtturm Notebooks with No Bleed Paper

Many people enjoy the fun of writing with a fountain pen, but have a hard time finding the right paper-ink combination when it comes to choosing a notebook. I have been a loyal Moleskine user for years, but have always had to contend with ink stained hands and fingers whenever I wrote in one with a fountain pen.

Recently I tried 2 notebooks and 2 different popular inks, with 3 different sized fountain pen nibs. I used a Lamy Safari fountain pen with extra-fine and a fine point nib and a Sailor Profit with a calligraphy nib filled with Private Reserve sonic blue and Noodler’s blue black ink. I know that a broader comparison would have been ideal, but I was using all that was available to me at the time, for this less than scientific experiment. However, I hope that my findings are helpful.

I typically write with the aforementioned extra-fine Lamy Safari using Private Reserve ink. This combination works well with most kinds of paper, but I have continually had a problem finding a notebook where the ink would dry quickly and not feather. Recently, I tried using a Leuchtturm 1917 Classic Notebook – a product of Hamburg, Germany, Made in Taiwan. I was attracted to this specific notebook because of its similarities with the Moleskine, and also its added features: page numbers, labels, and a pen holder that can be purchased separately. I had also read that this company recently began using an “ink proof paper” that piqued my curiosity. I was delighted to find that the paper quality was superb. It was almost like writing on silk.

There were no issues when using the Private Reserve ink. The ink dried quickly. It did not feather or bleed through the page. The Noodler’s performed similarly, however, it did not dry quickly or evenly. After using the Noodler’s and the book was closed, the ink would dot the opposing page. I also had problems with the Noodler’s smearing onto my fingers. This became more pronounced when using the calligraphy nib. If one is a die hard Noodler’s fan, I would recommend using blotting papers with the Leuchtturm notebook.

The other notebook tested was the Rhodia Webnotebook, from Lyon, France. Rhodia has many of the same features as a Moleskine (book mark, elastic band, back pocket), as well, but lacked the extras that were found in the Leuchtturm. The paper was magnificent! Using both kinds of ink, the Noodler’s dried faster and did not spot as it did with the Leuchtturm 1917. The Private Reserve ink was flawless. Neither of the inks used had issues with feathering or bleeding in this notebook, even when broader nibs were used.

I would recommend using either a Leuchtturm 1917 or a Rhodia notebook with a fountain pen – something I sadly cannot recommend for the Moleskine. One may find that using medium or bold nib will render different results that would require further experimentation. However, I feel confident that either one of these notebooks has the quality to take just about anything.

Blog Post by guest blogger & customer Reverend Matthew J. Teves

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Tuesday, March 8th, 2011 Products, Thoughts Comments Off on Notebooks for Fountain Pen Users

Scott and Todd’s excellent waterproof (ad)venture

We live in Oregon, which like many parts of the country has been hit hard by the recession. The recent decision by Intel to built another plant, or fab in Intel speak, in the Portland Metro area was welcome news. A new plant means thousands of construction jobs and over 1000 permanent jobs; folks who will pay taxes, buy sandwiches for lunch etc. The whole eco-system of interdependent services that goes with manufacturing.

The Intel news, the importance of domestically made product and the fact that the rainy season has started in Oregon made me think of Rite in the Rain waterproof notebooks, because generally we have notebooks on our brain. Rite in the Rain’s company history shows, that manufacturing in the USA requires different ingredients to come together to be successful; the will to manufacture where you live,  perseverance,  intellectual property, an efficient set up and having a unique product.

In 1916 a printer, Jerry Darling, started a company to supply paper notebooks to loggers in the Seattle Washington Area. Loggers were outside no matter what the weather and the enterprising J.L Darling company invented an oil based coating, that when applied to regular paper made it waterproof. Its waterproof paper gave the company a leg up over the competition and Rite in the Rain products became well known to anyone who needed to take notes outdoors.

Scott and Todd Silver, the current owners,  grew up with the J.L. Darling company, which their dad joined in 1958 as employee number 3. Scott & Todds father grew the business and eventually became part owner. In 1994 their Dad asked them to join the company and Todd, a marketing major and Scott, a federal bank examiner knew a good thing when they saw it. A niche company with a secret water proof sauce. They became owners of the business in 1995 and set out to work. The brothers are both avid outdoors men with an interest in environmental science. They loved the business, but the oil based secret sauce bothered them. Determined to change the companies dependence on an oil based coating, they set out to invent a water based solution to make their paper water proof. (Very zen if you ask me… fight water with water). In 2005, 9 years later! They had it figured out and patented.

Now Rite in the Rain paper is made from FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified pulp with a water based coating and is fully recyclable. Their factory prints with soy based inks and cut offs are recycled back into the manufacturing process. The bright yellow polydura covers  are made in the USA too from 100% post consumer plastic, like empty shampoo bottles. Scott and Todd were able to put their companies environmental practices on a sustainable footing. The companies environmental record now speaks as much to their love of the outdoors as its notebooks do.

Todd and Scott’s excellent adventure gives us some great journals and writing pads. Todd send us the attached image of the dumpster behind their 33,000 square foot facility in Tacoma Washington. This dumpster gets emptied once a week and is contains the grand total of non-recyclable garbage of the entire factory. Todd proudly noted that last week it was only 2/3 full.

Winter is the time for mostly very wet outdoor fun and if you are looking for gift ideas  for the outdoor enthusiasts on your list, Rite in the Rain journals are sure to be well received.

reduce re-use recycle and have a small dumpster

Recycling reduced garbage to a small dumpster with a weekly pick up

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Monday, November 22nd, 2010 eco-friendly-recycling, Products, Thoughts Comments Off on Scott and Todd’s excellent waterproof (ad)venture

It’s Orange and Black it is Halloween

Halloween Journaling

Halloween Journaling

We recently visited a pumpkin patch and the pumpkins we picked are now on display on our front porch. The prickly stems, the slight creepiness of the Pumpkin patch itself, what if those vines came alive! and above all the enthusiasm of our kids got me in a Halloween mood.

All of a sudden you seem to notice Halloween everywhere especially in front of the racks holding Rhodia Notepads, Orange and Black everywhere! Now at first blush Love Notebooks is not exactly your home for Halloween merchandise, but sometimes, especially around Halloween, you need to dig a little deeper…

So much of Halloween revolves around scary stories, mostly other peoples stories on TV, the movies and yes books. In our busy lives we often have to set our own creativity aside and purchase someone elses already fully imagined one. Instead of making our own costume we purchase one off the rack. This made me wonder what happened to the scary stories people made up themselves about the ramshackle house down the street, the spider that kept on growing and the neighbors cat?

Not too long ago  kids often recited a scary story or song to get their treat. Families made  up and shared their own scary stories. Could this be the Halloween where we designate a family journal and write down our own scary Halloween stories. It will be a fun activity with the kids. Each can write their own or can add to a story already started by the previous writer. Decorating a simple black journal will make the fun complete. This can be the start of a new fun family tradition. A notebook to add to and share with family and friends for years to come.

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Monday, October 25th, 2010 Hacks-DIY, Journaling, Thoughts, Writing Comments Off on It’s Orange and Black it is Halloween

The Long Term Benefits of Writing in Longhand

Our seven year old daughter is in second grade now and is learning to write cursive.  She proudly displays her progress and is eager to rewrite words and names she learned before, because in cursive they seem more grown up. As pen and paper junkies we are grateful to be in a school district, that values the skill of writing in long hand. There are studies and plenty of anecdotal evidence, that writing in longhand aids in memorization, improves fine motor skills and concentration. It is sad, that some school districts no longer give cursive the attention it deserves.

Longhand Writing

Longhand Writing

Our daughter has always been drawing on anything she can find, but somehow writing things down seemed less interesting until she learned cursive. Writing in longhand allows her personality to come out through her handwriting and writing in longhand is closer to drawing then typing on a keyboard or writing one letter at a time. Our daughter does her writing in a school issued notebook that is nothing to write home about and we could not help but wonder what the return on the investment would be in childrens participation and enthusiasm if every child got to practice their handwriting in a Paperblanks or Moleskine journal. We have always thought the foiled and debossed Pokemon cards would make great Paperblanks covers…

It is funny how your kid’s school work brings back memories of your own elementary school experience. When I was in elementary school, there were no pdas, I- pads or computers, except for Ataris and Commodore 64s, and we wrote mostly with leaky BIC ballpoints in longhand. One day in 5th grade our teacher announced, that as part of a new handwriting initiative, the school was handing each student a new fountain pen. A green pen for right handed students and a blue one for the lefties. I am not sure what the difference was exactly, but I suspect it was the grip or the nib.

Suffice to say the fountain pen initiative became a messy affair especially for already messy writers like myself. Ink cartridges and 11 year old boys in a class room setting was problematic to say the least. I had a habit of chewing on my pencils and pens and  an ink cartridge.. once…. The inside of my mouth transformed into the mouth of a creature out of Avatar. All that said, I still remember the nib of the fountain pen scratching the paper, forcing me to slow down as I wrote in longhand, forcing me to think just a little longer about the shape of letters and words.  Seeing our daughter learning to write in cursive and looking back to my own school experience I have come to realize that learning to write in longhand is a journey of self discovery, from which we benefit a lifetime.

In the Wall Street Journal of October 5th we found this article by Gwendolyn Bounds, that does a great job explaining the benefits of writing in longhand and backs it up with science.

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Saturday, October 23rd, 2010 Thoughts, Writing Comments Off on The Long Term Benefits of Writing in Longhand

A Finite Resource

Rhodia CEO meeting book

Rhodia CEO meeting book

What we cannot make more of we need to use wisely. We cannot make more time and yet we waste a lot of it. At work we waste a lot of it in meetings. According to a study by the Wharton Center for Applied Research, Executives, senior and middle management spend about 30%-60% of their time in meetings, but felt just 56% of this time was time well spent.

An important reason we use notebooks is to keep ourselves organized and hopefully by being organized save ourselves time. Any notebook can be used as an organizational tool, but in some cases a specialized notebook can help. Lovenotebooks has added the Rhodia CEO meeting book to our notebook selection, because we believe it will save you time and make your meetings more productive.

A lot of companies and state and local governments are cutting cost left and right, without ever noticing the enormous cost of unnecessary or badly run meetings. Poorly managed meetings cost not just time and money, but also have a negative impact on workplace enjoyment and motivation.

Like most things, a proper meeting has three steps to it and skipping a step is sure to result in a waste of time.

Preparation i.e. What is your agenda, your goal, Do you need a meeting to achieve your objective (very important) and if you do who really needs to be present? When will we have the meeting, what time of day or day of the week. Where will we have the meeting. Always ask yourself do we really need to sit down. If you can do the meeting standing up, it is more likely to be brief. Share the agenda and specific expectations you have for each attendee (If you do not have a reason for them being there why are they invited?) before the meeting to increase the quality of the input you will receive.

The meeting: Who is running the meeting? Someone has to be in charge follow the agenda and keep an eye on the clock. A free for all is not productive, because you are sure to get the loudest but not the most valuable opinion and will almost certainly end up discussing issues not relevant to your goal. How long is the meeting? Set a time and keep to it. Stay on point and conclude each point with an action, that is required to achieve your meeting’s goal. At the end of the meeting summarize what has been discussed; connect required actions to specific persons or teams and connect a deadline.

Follow up. Recap the meeting; reiterate goal and actions required and deadlines connected to each action via email or a paper hand out and make sure each party confirms back to you.

Write a brief review for yourself, while the meeting is fresh. Focus on what parts of the meeting were unproductive and why. This will allow you to save even more time the next time around, because there are sure to be more meetings.

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Saturday, October 23rd, 2010 organization and time management, Products, Thoughts Comments Off on A Finite Resource

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