Maybe it’s the New York Jew in me, but I often feel compelled and excited to share the objects that make my life better. Today I’m going to start with the two objects that everyone uses on a regular basis: pen and paper.
Pen: These days, I only write using one implement, the Zebra SK Sharbo (scroll to the bottom). It’s a combination pen and 0.5 mm mechanical pencil that comes in a variety of super bright colors (which helps me find it in a mess) and has a chunky rubber grip. I have three pens: the green one for using at home, the orange one that stays in my purse, and a white one that I keep as an emergency spare. The pens retail for about $5, and you can purchase multiple pencil lead, ballpoint and eraser refills for about two dollars each, ensuring that you’ve got something awesome to write with for the next three years for about $11 total. Zebra seems to be replacing the SK Sharbo with the SK Sharbo +1, which includes two colors of ink (black and red) in addition to the mechanical pencil. I’m all for adding an extra ink color, but the Sharbo +1 only comes in black and dark blue (and occasionally white), which is not only really boring, but almost guarantees that your pen will get lost or mixed up with someone else’s. The Sharbo +1 is also more expensive, retailing for about $8. I buy my pens from Kinokuniya or Maido Stationery (same company, two locations) and they don’t seem to have run out yet, but the original Sharbo may be on its way to being discontinued.
Paper: There is no notebook company I love more than Miquelrius. Their spiral-bound notebooks feature thick plastic covers on both sides and plastic binding, rather than wire, so the pages never tear out accidentally. Each color-coded page is a thick, super-smooth writing surface, featuring either fine-ruled lines or 4mm square graph paper and a separate little heading bar on top. Every page is perforated for easy removal and the larger notebooks also hole-punch the pages so that they can be inserted into a binder. These notebooks come in a variety of colors, surface designs, and both European and American sizes, so you’re all set whether you like the fine proportions of an A4, or are filing away notes in letter-sized folders. No matter which way you open them, they lay perfectly flat, which is great for one-handed use. Miquelrius notebooks can be found in most fine stationery and art supply stores, like Blick Art Materials and Flax, and retail for around $5-$15.
I personally like the simpler designs the best. In fact, they used to offer their spiral bound notebooks without any surface decoration whatsoever but stopped about five years ago. I hope they bring the solid color covers back someday. I keep a few of these notebooks around for different purposes. I use the lined, letter-sized, hole-punched ones for things like long lists and note-taking in classes. I like the smaller, A5-sized, graph paper ones for carrying in my purse. I use those for recording potential buyer and vendor information, or for on-the-fly product development. The graph paper and decent page size make it easy to draw and describe things in relative detail so I don’t end up looking at some tiny, cryptic note days later and cursing the elusiveness of my latest bright idea.
Please submit your own favorite pens, pencils and paper in the comments section below!