This is a Good Sign

Today’s review is of a set of notebooks from Roaring Spring Paper Products. sent me several different products from Roaring Spring so you’ll see several reviews from Roaring Spring products over the coming weeks.  Let’s get to it!

“This is a Good Sign” Notebooks

The first set of products is a few different notebooks from the “This is a Good Sign” series.  These notebooks are 70 sheets, college ruled, and measure 11 x 8.5.”   These are spiral notebooks with a three hole punch and are very typical of spiral notebooks one would use in school.  These would be good for children or students that need single subject spiral notebooks in their classes.  I have personally been using them on my desk at work, on phone calls to take notes, or to jot down whatever things I need to jot down. The cover designs are not ones I would typically choose, but I do really like the messages they display.   All of the covers have a traffic-type sign that says “This is a Good Sign” —  a funny pun and a positive message.  My favorite of the group is probably the purple cover that that says “Do What You Love / Love What You Do”  because I like how they combined both sentences of this important truth of life.

The paper in the notebook works very well with your normal ball point pen.  When using fountain pens and fountain pen ink there is significant showthrough and bleedthrough, such that when using a fountain pen you can only write on one side of the paper.  I find this is actually quite wasteful and I would rather be able to use both sides of the paper on each page.   Fountain pen ink also tends to feather on this paper, and while it’s not the worst I’ve seen, it is slightly noticeable.  Ballpoint pens are really the ideal type of pens for these notebooks.  The ballpoint still yields minimal showthrough, although not enough to prevent using both sides of the paper.  This notebook also works well with pencils so they would be good for people who like to write with pencils or for students that need to do math homework in a notebook.

Another unfortunate aspect of purchasing these notebooks is that they only seem to be available in a case quantity — a fact I was not made aware of when sent me the product.  So if you are interested in a case of 24 notebooks, it is available on for $75.60.  Personally, I would rather save the $3.14 a notebook and put it towards one I can buy individually with better paper quality.  Apologies to you for having not known about the price issue ahead of time, but I still had to post the review after receiving the product.


Review: Levenger True Writer Obsidian Fountain Pen

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted a pen review, but I’m now happy to tell you about one of my new favorite pens, the Levenger True Writer in Obsidian.

Appearance:  This is a nice looking pen!  This True Writer (“TW”) is black with “silver” accents.  I say “silver” because it is unclear from the product information whether the rings and clip are chrome or some other type of silver-colored metal.  The cap is black with a “silver” contoured clip and ring and then pen also has a cap ring engraved with “Levenger” and “True Writer.”  The body has another “silver” ring at the bottom and both the cap and bottom end of the pen have black jewels to match the body.  The section is also black.  The photo on the pen’s product page makes the black look more matte, but it’s actually very glossy.



Body:  The pen measures 5 1/2″ in length, 5/8″ diameter and weighs 0.77 oz.

I normally prefer thinner/medium pens over fat pens, and upon first use I felt the body/section was a little too wide.  However, after using the TW for only a few minutes I got used to the the width and now I barely notice it — even after switching between the TW and thinner pens.  It’s actually nice to have a bit of a fatter pen on certain days as it is quite comfortable to hold and use.

Nib:  Levenger nibs (this one included) are stainless steel and interchangable.  I requested a fine nib for this pen, but was sent a medium.  I was initially disappointed at this oversight, but upon first test my disappointment turned to pleasant surprise as this particular medium is on the fine side of medium and is actually just about the width for which I was hoping.  Levenger nibs have a tendency to be inconsistent in their widths, meaning some fines are finer than others, some mediums are more fine or more broad, etc.  It really just depends on which nib you get.  The nibs unscrew at the bottom of the section and thus can be exchanged with any other Levenger nib.  I had a slight problem with the converter/section/nib combo where the nib started unscrewing on its own and the ink leaked onto my fingers.  However, once I tightened it all was well again.

On first test the nib also seemed really stiff, however, I flexed it a little to spread the tines and after that the nib has been springy and very comfortable to use.

Caution:  be careful if you flex the tines on your Levenger nib because these nibs are not flex nibs.


Performance:  Some TW users recommend cleaning or soaking the nib to remove any factory oils that may be present, but I decided to try it as is and see how it performed.  The flow was great from the first touch of nib to paper and the nib was perfectly smooth.  I filled the converter only part way the first time, and the nib started drying out close to the end of the ink reservoir, but before the pen was actually out of ink.  Concerned, I filled it again so it was full and while I did have one more dry nib issue, it has been performing reliably since then.

This pen comes with one mini-cartridge and one converter.  I chose to use the converter so I could pick my ink of choice.  I initially inked the TW with Iroshizuku Ku-Jaku (review forthcoming) and they have been great friends.  The flow is wet, although I think that is due to both the pen and the ink, as Ku-Jaku tends to have excellent flow.


Overall:  The Levenger TW is now one of my new favorite pens, and definitely my favorite modern pen so far.  It is visually sleek, well-balanced, comfortable to use, and reliable.   I would definitely recommend this pen.

However, I did have some problems with the Levenger employees/customer service reps.  I had called the company’s toll-free number for some information and both people I spoke to were extremely rude to me and refused to answer my questions.  For that reason I am hesitant to support the Levenger company itself with my hard-earned money.  I found this to be unfortunate, as it seems they make good products and I was hoping to become a regular Levenger customer.

***UPDATE 4/7/14****  I was contacted by Levenger’s Director of Marketing to find out about my bad customer service experience.  He was quite apologetic and the company has already taken steps to handle the conduct of the employees.  It seems my experience was rare and now I feel much more comfortable endorsing Levenger’s commitment to excellent customer service.  The company really does care about their products and reputation, so I am glad this situation was corrected. I am happy to continue to support Levenger and will bring you more reviews of Levenger products in the future.

Price:  The pen retails for $59 on  Also available on Amazon – medium nib here and fine nib here.

Here’s a bonus box shot for those of you who love the boxes!


Sharpies Galore! (Review)

I was fortunate to receive a collection of Sharpie pens from  My package contained:

Sharpie Neon Permanent Markers

Sharpie Metallic Permanent Markers (Gold and Silver)

Sharpie Premium Pen.


I won’t go through my usual pen review categories on this review since most people have used Sharpie pens before and will be familiar with them.  Click on the thumbnails for the full photos.

The Neon markers are what you would expect from Sharpie, although they smell a little different.  The colors in the pack are neon yellow, pink, blue, green, and orange.  When first writing with the yellow, the ink looks like a dark marigold, but once it dries it is a bright yellow that is bright enough to be readable on white paper, but can also double as a highlighter if needed.  The orange is quite bright, while the green and pink are tolerable and the blue is actually a somewhat calming color.  They perform exactly as one would expect from a Sharpie.  This pack of five neon Sharpies sells for $8.94 on


The gold and silver Metallic Sharpie markers are also what you would expect from a Sharpie, but the metallic ink and felt tip is a little softer than non-metallic Sharpies, especially with the silver ink.  The gold is in the middle between the silver and a non-metallic Sharpie.  These also smell like regular black Sharpie pens and are the same in body, etc. to the classic Sharpie.  These metallic pens are some of my favorite Sharpie markers because the metallics work great on white, black, or colored paper — plus, I love metallics!  You can also use these markers to decorate plastic.  I used it on a planner cover and am thinking about using them on the Kantek Desktop Tablet Stand as well.  I have even seen DIY projects where people use the Sharpies on dishware and then bake it in the oven to set the design!  Although I received this gold/silver two-pack from, also available is a three-pack with gold, silver, and bronze.  The gold/silver two-pack sells for $4.56 on


The Sharpie Premium Pen really got me excited.  I had heard about this pen before and jumped at the chance to try it.  The body and cap are stainless steel with a chrome clip.  The pen sports a black jewel at each end and a black band where the cap meets the body.  The pen does have black lettering on the side that says “Sharpie | Pen” and frankly I would prefer if that was omitted.  I think it makes the pen look less high-end than it would without the logo.  The section is a soft and smooth rubber grip that is extremely comfortable to use.  The pen is light enough to be comfortable for long writing sessions, but heavy enough that it doesn’t feel too light.  I’d say it’s just right.

I find the pen to be better balanced when writing unposted as it’s a little tall and top-heavy when posted in my opinion.  The fine tip is a pourous point, which is basically like a felt-tip.  It’s similar to the fine tipped Sharpies, but I find a better comparison is to the Cross Porous-Point (Felt-Tip) 8443 Refill.   The two best parts about this pen are that 1) it’s refillable! and 2) NO SMELL!  It’s so nice to use a Sharpie product without that terrible smell that is guaranteed to give me a headache.  I have been using this pen consistently since receiving it and it has become one of my most used pens.  It is comfortable to use, even for those of us with arm/wrist issues and I find myself reaching for it frequently – especially for jotting notes that require faster writing than is ideal for a fountain pen and for papers that don’t do well with a nib.  The ink has very minimal show-through and no bleed-through.  This one was definitely a score!  Plus, the price is definitely write for such a quality-made pen.  The Sharpie Premium Pen sells for $6.13 on


(Shoplet asked me to include the following links to products/services provided by Shoplet, so here they are:  Office SuppliesSharpie Premium PenMetallic Permanent Sharpie markersNeon Permanent Sharpie markersPromotional ProductsPromotional ShirtsOffice Stationery)

Review: House of Doolittle Monthly Desk Pad Calendar with Large Notes Section

This product was sent to me for review by the kind people at House of Doolittle and

I don’t really use these types of calendars (and didn’t know this was being sent to me), so I am going to refer to you to my review on the House of Doolittle Weekly/Monthly Planner and my more recent review on the House of Doolittle Weekly Business Planner for comments on the quality of product and paper.  It is my guess that this desk pad calendar lives up to the same quality as the planner.  For someone that does use this type of desk pad calendar, I think it would be a great choice!


You can purchase this product for $6.90 + shipping from by clicking here.

(Shoplet asked me to include the following links to products/services provided by Shoplet, so here they are:  Office SuppliesBusiness Planner2014 CalendarPromotional ProductsPromotional ShirtsOffice Stationery)

Review: House of Doolittle Wirebound Weekly Business Planner

I did a review of a very similar House of Doolittle planner here.  This planner is almost the same, but with a few variations.

This product was sent to me for review by the kind people at House of Doolittle and

Cover:  The cover is made from “embossed simulated leather” composed of 50% recycled material.  To be honest, it feels more like a flexible plastic, and one can see texture added.  The cover color of mine is black, although I do not know if it comes in other colors.

Size: It’s quite large for a planner, 8.5 x 11″ to be exact.  While I normally don’t use planners this large, it’s size actually has a more executive attitude.

Layout: This is a weekly format and each week has a section to keep track of your business expenses.  I’m sure this format works for many people, but I personally prefer a little more space to write in each hour slot.  I just picked a random week to photograph so you can see the format.

Paper: The paper is made from 100% Post-Consumer Paper and printed with soy ink.  Let’s be clear, this is not Clairefontaine paper.  For recycled paper, it is fairly smooth.  It is a nice bright white, and printed with blue text and grey lines.  The paper is on the thinner side, but sturdy.  There is definite show-through, both from the page printing and from fountain pen ink.  I have not experienced bleed-through, although Private Reserve’s DC Supershow Blue did have more significant show-through.  Most fountain pen inks do feather slightly on this paper, but it’s not glaringly obvious – you have to look more closely to really see the feathering (although more saturated inks like DCSSB do have slightly more pronounced feathering).


Improvements:  Tear-off tabs like the Exaclair-distributed planners would be helpful to easily find the current week within the current month.  I would also like it if there was no feathering and less show-through.  The planner is also non-refillable, which may be a bother to some people.

Other notes: I really like that this planner is made from 100% recycled products, 100% post-consumer paper, 100% made in the USA, 50% recycled cover  material, 90% recycled wire, and printed with soy ink.  I am actually surprised at the high quality of this planner due to it’s mostly recycled content.  It makes me feel more responsible to be using something environmentally friendly, and I like that the company is supporting the US economy by making products at home.  Another cool thing is that the company has been making dated products since 1919 and all of their products are made from recycled materials.

Purchase:   If you would like to purchase this planner from for $13.22 + shipping, click here for the product page.

 (Shoplet asked me to include the following links to products/services provided by Shoplet, so here they are:  Office Supplies, Business Planner, 2014 Calendar, Promotional Products, Promotional Shirts, Office Stationery)

Review: Pilot Iroshizuku Kosomosu Fountain Pen Ink

It has finally happened — I am the proud owner of two Pilot Iroshizuku inks.  (I’ll have the review of the other color shortly, but for now I’ll keep it as a surprise.)

With this brand, you can believe the hype.  I’ve had a field day with some bright colors this summer, and I want to get those reviews up before I switch to some glorious fall colors.

Today’s review is Pilot Iroshizuku Kosumosu, or as I like to call it, the cherry blossom ink.

Pilot Iroshizuku Kosumosu with a vintage pink Esterbrook and a Rhodia Dot Pad

Pilot Iroshizuku Kosumosu with a vintage pink Esterbrook and a Rhodia Dot Pad

The Bottle:  If you already own Iroshizuku ink or have read other reviews, you know the bottle is quite nice.  It’s made of handblown glass and the ink reservoir takes up about 75% of the bottle with a little triangle at the bottom of the reservoir.  The bottom quarter of the bottle is just thick clear glass, but the way that it is blown allows for some reflection from the ink in the reservoir.  The cap is just black plastic, and there is a little grey cord tied around the neck.  If there is a purpose to the cord other than decoration, I’m not aware of it.  As far as the box, it’s silver and does have a little flap inside to hold the bottle in more securely, but it is as visually appealing as the bottle.


Color:  This ink is Kosumoso, which means “cosmos flower.”  To me it suggests cherry blossoms.  It’s close to a bubblegum pink color with coral undertones, which differs from some pinks that have more purple undertones.  As one of “those” people that often likes to match inks to pens, Kosumosu is a great match for my pink Esterbrook.

Pilot Iroshizuku Kosumosu's color is a close match to my pink Esterbrook

Pilot Iroshizuku Kosumosu’s color is a close match to my pink Esterbrook

Consistency/Flow:  I have only been using this ink in my vintage Esterbrook and am already on my fourth refill.  My Esterbrook has some flow issues and a scratchy nib that I need to refine, so I think it was a great pen for testing.  My first impression of Kosumoso didn’t make me say “Wow!  The flow of this ink is amazing!”  However, the flow has been very stable.  It’s not dry and is appropriately wet without being too wet.  It has actually alleviated some of the dryness and flow issues of the pen, although did not completely resolve them.

Shading, Feathering, and Other Characteristics:  Kosumoso does have some shading, but not as much as I was expecting from reviews of some of the other Iroshizuku colors.  It’s enough to be noticeable for those who look for shading, but would probably be lost on the non-fountain pen/ink person.  I have sometimes experienced minuscule feathering on cheap paper, but I think that is really due to the absorption qualities of the paper rather than the ink’s properties.  It behaves very well, especially on high quality paper.  The figure 8s in the writing sample photos look like they have a little feathering, but it is because the scratchy nib was catching on the paper a bit, it is not from the ink.  The writing sample was on a Rhodia Dot Pad.

Overall:  This ink immediately became part of my regular rotation, especially in the warmer months when bright colors are a necessity.  A great color match for my Estie makes it all the more fitting.

Purchasing and Pricing:  This ink is imported from Japan and not cheap.  It retails for about $27-28 on most online retailers.  You can sometimes find it for a few dollars less, but after adding the shipping it doesn’t make much difference.  I got mine from Amazon, which is direct from Pilot, considerably cheaper, and you can get free shipping if you spend more than $25.   You can click the photo/link below to buy your own bottle of Kosumoso from Amazon and help support La Plume Etoile.

Review: Bexley Admiral Fountain Pen

I haven’t had a pen review for you for a while, so today’s review is of the new Bexley Admiral fountain pen in Reef Blue.

The ink used for this pen test is J. Herbin’s Eclat de Saphir (my review here).

I would like to express thanks to Howard Levy of Bexley Pens for loaning me this pen to review.  I have some mixed feelings about this pen, all of which I have discussed with Howard.  I will express all my opinions to you because I feel the honesty and integrity of La Plume Etoile and my reviews are of the utmost importance.  Also, please note that my current layout is chopping the photos, so please click on the photos for a full view.

Appearance:  The pen has a nice overall appearance.  I personally was not a fan of the Reef Blue crackle pattern because I thought it looked “plasticky,” but that is just personal preference.  Reef Blue comes with rhodium plated accents, and the two cap rings are a nice touch.  I also enjoyed the unique clip design that ends in a ball framed with a crescent shape.

Body:  The body is short in the hand, similar to vintage demi and junior sized pens.  I have included one photo of the Admiral with a vintage demi-sized Parker Vacumatic for comparison.

Here are the Admiral’s measurements:

–  5.25″  posted

– 4.5″  body + section with nib (no cap)

– 3.5″  body + section without nib (no cap)

–  just under 1″  for the nib by itself

– 2.5″  for the cap alone

– weight is just under 1 oz (about 0.8 oz) according to my food scale.

The width of the pen is fat, but not too fat.  The pen body is made from solid body cast acrylic, but it is really lightweight and much too light for my taste.   Frankly, I couldn’t tell the different between the solid body cast acrylic and thin plastic.  Companies like MontBlanc use injection mold acrylic which makes for more substantial, yet more fragile pen, so the benefit of Bexley’s acrylic is that it will withstand dropping, etc. much better than other pens.  However, I personally prefer a more expensive feeling pen and am careful to use more caution.


Nib:   The nib I tested was a Fine.  It is mostly stiff but does give a little if forced.  There is slight variation as seen in the photos.  The two-tone decorative nib is attractive, but too large for the pen.  The choice of large nib by Bexley is due to inventory, as it is easier for the company to stock one size of nib than different sized nibs to fit different pens.  Although it would be more difficult and expensive for the company, I think it would be better to stock different nib sizes so that the nibs are properly in proportion with each pen’s body size.  However, for the price of the pen, you definitely get quite a lot of nib!

Using the Pen:  As previously stated, the pen is very lightweight.  This is good for long writing sessions and people with hand/wrist/arm issues, but I felt the lightness slighted the balance just a tad.  The cap comes down too low so it rests in the crook of my hand when writing.   If I didn’t post the cap securely, the movement of my hand would loosen it and keep knocking it off the end of the body.   However, this can be avoided by post the cap tightly.  Because the cap posts onto the pen body inside the top of the cap, there should not be a risk of cracking the lip of the cap.   I found the weight a little too light when using unposted, but I did mostly write with it unposted because I didn’t like the cap position.


Converter:  The Admiral takes mini-cartridges and comes with a Monteverde mini-converter.  Admittedly, it took me three tries to fill this pen because I kept trying to twist the converter.  Most converters operate by twist, so I thought this to be the same.  This converter, however, does not twist.  You just pull up the black plunger and it sucks up the ink like a vacuum.  The good thing was that the operation of this conveter is easy.  The bad is that is holds a VERY small amount of ink and it needed to be refilled after one evening and one morning of normal writing.  The bonus was that cleaning the pen was one of the easiest I have ever cleaned.  I removed the converter, sucked up and released water a few times and that part was done.  I flushed the nib unit under the faucet and only had to drain it twice before there was no ink in the tissue.  That was definitely a benefit!

Performance:   The best part of this pen was the performance.  The nib was very smooth with no scratchiness.  There was no specific sweet spot to the nib and it wrote well at all angles, except if you turned the nib completely on it’s side (which you wouldn’t do anyway).  There was almost no skipping (a couple small skips on letter starts) and the ink flow was continuous.  This could definitely be a daily workhorse pen if the body is comfortable for you and you like its weight.


Price:  All pens in the Bexley Admiral Collection retail for $139.  Richard Binder has it for $104.

Overall:  I have been told the pen has been selling well and customers are very happy with it.   At that price point, I was personally disappointed at the look, feel, and weight of the acrylic; the too-large nib; and the small converter.  However, the performance was very steady and the acrylic is supposed to withstand breaking, so you might like it if you want a very lightweight pen that you could carry around with you and be a daily workhorse.

Here are a few miscellaneous photos for the box fans:

Review: Sula Jane and Earl Pen Sleeves

More goodies from Sula Jane and Earl!  The next products are the Single Pen Sleeve and Shorty Single Pen Sleeve.  Again, a wide variety of colors are available.  The leather is the same quality as the previously reviewed Calling Card Sleeve, so I won’t go into the same specifics.  The sleeve is cut and stitched well and seems like it will hold up to many uses.

The Single Sleeve measures Approximately 6.5″ H X 1.75″ W and mine is in “Scarlet,” a lovely deep red color. I couldn’t get the color right on the screen, as I think the photo made the color appear brighter than it in actuality.  The color is actually a little darker and not as bright as the photo.  For reference purposes, I photographed the sleeve with a full sized Pilot Varsity disposable fountain pen, as I thought most people would be familiar with those pens and could get a good idea of the sleeve size in reference to the Varsity. I didn’t slide the pen all the way in for the photo, but a Varsity will actually slide all the way in and leave about 0.5” of room at the top.  The Single Sleeve is available for $24.


 The Shorty Sleeve is the same as the Single Sleeve, except shorter!  The Shorty measures approximately 5″ H X 1.50″ W, which is perfect for my demi and junior sized pens.  These smaller pens will fit fully inside the sleeve without sticking out of the top much or at all.  My Shorty is pictured below in Plum, and the Plum in my Shorty features a slightly different leather pattern/texture than the Single Sleeve.   The Shorty Sleeve is available for $21.