A 300-Year-Old Color Swatch Book

colors-1 colors-3

If you think we pen geeks get a little OCD about documenting our new fountain pen inks or testing papers in various notebooks, then you’ll appreciate this. In 1692 an artist created an 800-page handwritten book of paint swatches and documenting color at that time. Many comparisons are being made between this book and the modern day Pantone swatch books. Pretty epic, huh?


There are even more photos available to view, all collected in hi-rez though the server is clearly overburdened at present.

(via Colossal and linked from Erik Kwakkel. Thanks to Bob, Teri and everyone else who sent me the link)

Spring Break!

Dancing vintage easter egg bunnies

The Desk is spending this week cavorting with nature, staring at the crab apple blossoms and skipping through fields of clover (… as soon as the snow stops. Stupid weather!).

Hope you are enjoying a little spring break and communing with nature yourself.

I’ll be back next Monday with lots of reviews, products and stories. Happy Easter!

(image via Bytes Daily)

Oscar Bingo!


Totally off-topic but with Oscar Night this Sunday, I thought I’d share a fun way to celebrate the event. Oscar Bingo is one of my favorite ways to integrate pens or markers while I watch the Oscars. Just print out a Bingo card and get your favorite marker or pen to mark your squares. It helps to watch with friends too so there’s some competition as to who gets a BINGO! first.

I usually play Oscar Bingo using the cards created by How About Orange. This year, I also might try playing with the Studio 360 boards. Two bingo boards at once will double the fun.

Do you watch the Oscars? Do you have your Oscar Ballot all filled out and ready to compare with the actual winners?

(photo and Oscar Bingo cards from How About Orange)

Office Supply Whimsy

office-y accessories from modcloth

While surfing around ModCloth looking for stationery, I found some other goodies for the office and for the office supply geek.

First, there is the cookie-inspired USB cup warmer. I’ve been grumbling about my coffee or tea cooling off and I have one open USB port left on my office computer. Solution? At $14.99, it just might be.

In the middle image is the vintage-inspired, ceramic dachshund paper organizer. Display your incoming post, letters and photos in the coils. It’s hot dog cool for your desk. Just $12.99.

And what paper nerd wouldn’t want to curl up under a sheet of notebook paper with the Free Verse Reveries duvet cover? Dream sweet pen and ink dreams. $89.99


And the Pencil Me In shoes are back in stock. It’s the perfect shoe for the teacher, librarian or office supply geek in your life. $109.99. If you’re feeling generous, I wear a 6.5.

Eyecandy from San Francisco

Happy Heart Mailbox

While I could not get Flickr to upload my travel photos, at least it saved my goodies, so I shall share those with you today. I did not buy a lot of goodies knowing so many things could be purchased later via Jet Pens and other vendors’  online shops so I limited myself to must-haves and small items that would fit in my carry-on bag.

Above, Melissa of Craftgasm and the Smithsonian Postal Museum shared the postal love with a little pink mail box filled with paper treats.

Red & Blue Goodies

If you put red-and-blue airmail stripes on anything, I’m likely to buy it. Maybe that’s why I love red/blue pencils so much? The pencil pictured above came from the epic Patrick & Co. stationery shop for a mere $0.39. Patrick’s is a classic stationery shop that’s been in business for over 100 years with an endless array of legal pads in every color imaginable, pens and pencils in jars to be purchased individually and so much more. There are two locations in downtown San Francisco, both near Union Square and should not be missed. The Dennison Airmail seals and the gummed labels came from Saturday Morning Vintage who had a stellar booth at the vendor market at Ex Postal Facto. The G. Lalo Verge de France stationery pad came from Patrick & Co. while the Air Mail stationery and envelopes came from Maido.

Red and Kraft is good

I purchased a few Pilot Hi-Tec C refills and a Hi-Uni HB pencil in the Maido shop in the Westfield Mall in Union Square. I also visited the Maido shop in Japantown and picked up a few more goodies. The postcard set tied with twine came from the 826 Collective Pirate Shop in the Mission. What fun! The Ohto Dude pen was compliments on Jet Pens along with a couple Morning Glory Mach 3 pens.

For the love of green

And of course, no trip would be complete without a little green. I got a word cards deck, some green gel pens, a “beans” cutter and itty bitty green staples from Maido. There will be more details about these purchases in the near future but I wanted to give a little taste of the stationery bounty available in San Francisco, should you find yourself there.

Top 10 Most Popular Posts for 2013

top10 posts from 2013

Here’s a  round-up up the most popular posts from 2013 that appeared here on The Desk.

  1. The Great Beginner Fountain Pen Debate
  2. Customizing a Midori Traveler Notebook
  3. Pilot Metropolitan Review
  4. TWSBI Mini Review
  5. Bullet Journal
  6. Piccadilly Essential Notebook
  7. Pipe Desk Building Plans
  8. Midori Traveler Star Edition
  9. Classroom Friendly Sharpener
  10. Kaweco Student Fountain Pen

I’m surprised to see the Bullet Journal and the Pipe Desk in the top ten but they are both great things to know. Thanks to all of you for continuing to read my reviews, leaving great comments and feedback and inspiring me with your own adventures in paper, ink and writing tools.

Happy New Year to all and happy writing!

Getting Organized: Recipes

Recipe binder

Since one of my goals for 2014 is to cook more meals at home, I need a system to store and organize recipes. Office supply geek thing at work, clearly! I’ve been searching the internet for good recipes and culling the stacks of magazines all over my house for potential recipes and sticking them in a file folder. This is not an ideal way to find a recipe so I am headed out to the office supply store today to pick up a binder ($3.89) or two, dividers ($0.99) and an assortment of plastic sleeves ($12.79/box of 50) to store my recipes in a more orderly fashion. I like that the plastic sleeves will keep the recipes safe from spills too.

I’ve been searching all morning for a good source for standard 8.5″x11″ sheet protectors that are divided to hold two 5.5″x8.5″ sheets since I have a bunch of smaller pages from Everyday Food (now defunct) and to hold recipe cards instead of a box. Sadly, I have been unable to find any at a reasonable cost (most seem specific to holding archival photo prints and are quite pricey). I may end up with a small binder and sheet protectors for the Everyday Food recipes, specifically, if I can’t find a better option.

I will probably keep dessert recipes in a separate binder to keep all the binders light and agile. Besides, I don’t tend to use them with the same frequency as dinner recipes.

In case you are curious, I found a lot of great recipes on Budget Bytes, including easy-to-make crock pot dishes. Also, the Dragon Noodles dish is delicious, easy-to-make and infinitely customizable. I added frozen edamame to mine for some extra protein.

Does anyone else have a good system for organizing recipes?

(photo via Freesytlin’ Beth)

Getting Ready for the New Year

Gold Foil Calendar on raspberry paper with easel stand $52. Refill only $38. Also available in Kraft with opaque white foil stamp. (via Sugar Paper)

Gold Foil Calendar on raspberry paper with easel stand $52. Refill only $38. Also available in Kraft with opaque white foil stamp. (via Sugar Paper)

I love the few, quiet days between Christmas and New Year’s. I use the time to potter around the house, tackling piles of papers, cleaning out my in-box (paper and digital), using Christmas cards to update addresses in my address book and other organizational projects. I try to write my thank you notes, catch up on correspondence, read books and catch up on movies. I really need a month but a week gets some of the projects checked off my list for the new year.

I love using the New Year as a chance to do things better. Lots of people talk about resolutions, but I think of them more as plans and goals. I often choose things that should be attainable in theory rather than things that are completely new habits or lifestyle.

So far, my personal goals are pretty humble:

  1. learn to cook more meals at home (besides frozen pizza)
  2. fix up my vintage bike (needs new rear wheel and tires)
  3. keep riding my bikes (4-5 times a week)
  4. keep writing lots of letters (and reply more quickly)
  5. match my GoodReads goal from 2013 (60 books)
  6. travel to SF for Ex Postal Facto
  7. more goodies in The Well-Appointed Desk shop

What are your goals for the New Year?

Batkid Successfully Saves Gotham

(This post is completely and entirely off-topic. Apologies to all and a promise to get back to business ASAP)


As a loyal listener to the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast, AKA PCHH, I often spend my Friday afternoon thinking about “what’s making me happy this week.” This week, and Friday in particular, I spent the day glued to a live feed from SF and the adventures of Batkid.

So, this week, San Francisco is making me happy, for giving a little boy the chance to be a hero.

Wanted: Giveaway Winners


I’ve been unable to reach two giveaway winners to send them their goodies. If you are Maggie B. winner of the Poppin 18-month Planner or Suzanne winner of the Floral Bomb assortment giveaway. Please contact me at the Ask The Desk contact form. Tell me the email address you used to enter the drawing and your shipping address. I’m assuming my emails got lost in your junk mail filter.

If I do not hear from either winner by the last day of September, I will draw new names from the original entries and have to give the goodies to a new winner.

As a result, in the future, I will add a 30-day reply window for giveaway winners so please use your regular email address when entering the giveaways here. I promise, they are hidden in my WordPress contact form. I am the only one who sees them unless the giveaway is specifically sponsored by a second-party and I do not keep email addresses.

More Giveaways: And just to sweeten the pot, for those souls who read this whole post, I’m going to give away a Jet Pens gift certificate for $25 just because I can. (Thank you very much, Jet Pens!)

To enter: Leave a comment and tell me what currently on your Jet Pens wishlist to be officially entered.

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Saturday, September 21, 2013. All entries must be submitted at wellappointeddesk.com, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Sunday. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). ONE entry per person, please. Please include your email address in the comment form (not in your comment) so that I can contact you if you win. I will not save email addresses or sell them to anyone — pinky swear. Gift certificate will sent digitally via JetPens. Winner has 30 days to reply to my email. If I can’t reach you within 30 days, a new winner will be drawn from the original entries.

Bullet Journal

Screen shot 2013-09-09 at 11.24.05 AM

A Bullet Journal is not a brand of notebook. Rather, its a method by which to annotate notes to help organize all those random events, ideas and things that need doing. I had not heard about Bullet Journaling until I listened to the most recent Pen Addict podcast, episode #70. The podcast featured an interview with Ryder Carroll, the creator of the Bullet Journal system. I’m fascinated by the idea of creating a system and being more thoughtful about the manner in which I take and keep notes. Unfortunately, the system works best for simple to-do’s and someday-maybe projects and not bigger projects like work assignments with many steps stretched over weeks of months. But there are the beginnings of ways to tackle that. I think blending the Bullet Journal system with GTD might give me a workable paper system.

Have you tried the Bullet Journal? Has it worked for you?

(via Pen Addict Podcast)

Plugging The Firm: Where I work


This video was featured on The Verge this week and features Hallmark and focuses on the precarious state of the greeting card as a means for communication in our modern age. The video also features views of the halls I walk and many people who I’ve worked with over the years (I spent several years in the humor and Shoebox group. Yes, it really is a tiny little division of Hallmark). There are images of our legendary Crown Room (not during lunch), the outside of the building and even some peeks into the cubicles of people I know.

As folks who appreciate analog tools, I hope you also appreciate cards as a way to communicate with family and friends. Not to mention that, without the lovely steady paycheck from Hallmark, this blog might not be here.

PS: Even the Ford ad that bookends the video was filmed in Kansas City.

(Sorry I was unable to embed the video.)

Edit: Updated video and article links on Tuesday, Sept 10 as the original links went bad.

Brand It With Office Supplies




I appreciate any company whose branding leans heavily on quippy uses of office supplies. For one, few jobs are nothing but sparse workspaces and iPhones so of course you need good office supplies. And second, the products aren’t overbranded with the company’s logo but rather with the principles that guide the company.


I’m speaking of the new branding campaign for advertising giant Hill Holliday. They are using stark black and white with liberal Helvetica to create the brand message without using logo-fied golf shirts (don’t do it).


I love that they quoted Yoda on an office wall.


(via Under Consideration with a shout-out to Paper Pastries for the tip)

Did you know… Iridium?

Iridium info from Wired

If you buy fountain pens, then you’ve probably stumbled across the term “iridium-tipped” at some point in regards to fountain pen nibs. But do you know anything about iridium? I knew it was used to harden the nibs of pens but I did not know it was one of the hardest metals in existence. I have also noticed recently that some pen manufacturers are describing the material they use to tip nibs as “iridium alloy”. I also didn’t know that its also one of the most expensive metals in the world.  As of today, iridium is selling for upwards of $925 per troy ounce. For some scale, gold is at about $1300. Crazy.

Nibs.com has a detailed article about the iridium and alternatives used for nibs.

(via Wired 21.08, article is not currently available online but is the current Aug 2013 issue on newsstands today)

Iowa Rest Stop, Stop #1 on The Well-Appointed Desk Summer Tour


Greetings from The Well-Appointed Desk summer road trip! That’s right, I had to stop at the legendary I-80 rest stop in Iowa that features a giant pen nib out front.


The site is designed to recognize the writing heritage of Iowa. From its universities to authors who’ve both lived in and traveled through Iowa, all writing is celebrated.


Not just giant pen nibs are featured, the lights around the property are pencils and the “erasers” are lights!


Each of the covered seating areas feature laser cut metal sheets with quotes. This is a Tennessee Williams quote.



On the floor inside is a quote from Jack Kerouac from On The Road: “…between the East of my youth and the West of my future.”

Well worth the stop!

Three Years of The Well-Appointed Desk


Today is the third anniversary of The Well-Appointed Desk. In that time, I’ve posted over 1800 times, reviewed dozens of pens, notebooks and other office supplies, given away lots of goodies and made tons of new friends. I am amazed that I find new things to talk about every day!

To celebrate, I am going to give away a pile of samples. Everyday this week I am giving away a stack of goodies — some were review products with one or two pages used in the back for pen testing, some are brand-spankin’ new. Keep your eyes peeled.


Here’s a sneak peek of the assortments to be given away this week. Happy blogiversary to me (and to you)!

Link Love: Book It, Dan-o

Word Notebooks have four new cover designs that can be mixed and matched with their existing designs to make your own pack of 3.

Word Notebooks have four new cover designs that can be mixed and matched with their existing designs to make your own pack of 3.

Pens, Pencils and Inks


Scout Books just released a new, larger sized notebooks. At 5x7, it includes the same kraft cardstock covers as its little brother but with more room to write. Available in grid, dot, lined or blank. Two-pack for $10

Scout Books just released a new, larger sized notebooks, the Scout Books Mega. At 5×7, it includes the same kraft cardstock covers as its little brother but with more room to write. Available in grid, dot, lined or blank. Two-pack for $10


Apologies for Technical Difficulties


This is the police line "Do Not Cross" tape I was greeted with upon arriving home on Monday.

This is the police line “Do Not Cross” tape I was greeted with upon arriving home on Monday.

Over the last 48 hours, I’ve had a few glitches in the finely oiled machine that is The Well-Appointed Desk. On Sunday night, our power went out at 9pm and was not restored until 11am Monday, by which point I was already at work. So… I was unable to get a new post up on the blog at all on Monday.

Then, on my way home last night, the street behind my house was closed due to a package of questionable origin left at the charter school causing a bit of chaos and inconvenience.

Needless to say, I’m a little behind schedule this week now. Finely oiled, not really! But I’ll try to get caught up today and get some fresh content posted. Thanks for your patience!

The Pen Addict Podcast: Episode 54 “The Chair at the Desk”


This week I had the honor of being a guest on the premier pen-and-paper geek podcast, The Pen Addict, hosted by Brad Dowdy and Myke Hurley. They were super nice to let me come on the show and talk about all kinds of geeky pen stuff.

If you haven’t heard the show before, you can subscribe here. For the show notes, visit 70decibels. I’ll have a follow-up tomorrow of a few things I forgot to mention.

PS: The title is a joke about my email address, chair (@) wellappointeddesk.com.