ScanCards are Back!

A few years ago, I found this node here, on DIYPlanner:
From then until very recently, I tried desperately to find a ScanCard binder. A few unsuccessful eBay attempts and a fortunate find at a thrift store and, ta da! Here is my genuine ScanCard Binder! It's used, but still in decent shape.

scancard binder front.jpg

This find came with SIX panels. Here is a picture of the inside of the binder. This panel actually has 24 slots on the front. The stamp in the top right says ScanCard System: Project Control Center.

scancard inside front panel 24.jpg

The back of the binder holds a legal pad. Pen loop to the left.

scancard inside back.jpg

Here are pictures of the panels. Each side holds 20, so 40 for each panel. This one has colored cards I cut for it. Each card measures 3 1/4 in. x 3.1/4 in.

scancard panel with cards.jpg

This panel is empty. You can see the slots.

scancard panel with out cards.jpg

This shows the flexibility of the card slots. Have you ever had a 3-ring binder cover fall apart? I'd say the plastic material is slightly heavier.

scancard panel plastic thickness.jpg

I have no idea how much/often/length of time these inserts were used, but the paper is very easy to slide in and out of the slots. To me, it's easier filling the slots starting at the bottom and going to the top. Sliding in...

scancard sliding in.jpg

And sliding out...

scancard sliding out.jpg

I'm very excited to have made such a find! At first, I worried about the size of the binder not being portable. However, I've split up the different panels and have separate homes for each.

scancard binders.jpg

The official Project Control center is leather. Although it's been well loved, I'm a teacher. If I kept this at school, I could run the risk of really damaging it. Or having it stolen. So, I keep the original binder at home. You can see the various 'home' tasks I have listed. The white binder is my running list of teacher tasks. The purple binder is the layout for this year's yearbook. (The top lists the page title, who will be on it, and the back lists my original ideas for the layout of each page.)

I tend to keep the white binder at school, the Project Control binder at home, and the only one that travels is the purple binder. There are times when I need to go run errands. I use this wallet, given to me by my friend George, to transfer back and forth. Here it is closed.

scancard wallet closed.jpg

And here it is open. These were index cards I cut up and edged with a highlighter.

scancard wallet open.jpg

At the end of each work day, I try to take out the cards I need to do tomorrow. As I think of something, I write it down and sort it at the end of the day. If the task will be completed at school, the card is slotted (or gets set out on my desk to be done for the next day). If the item on the card is a task I need to do at home or is an errand, I put the cards in the wallet and sort them at home. Easy!

I've only had this binder for a few weeks, but I already feel more organized!

1. I'm not wasting time re-writing lists.
2. If the note is short, I can get 8 notes per one card.
3. Each day I can see ALL areas of my life and work a little bit toward my various goals.
4. When dealing with big projects (ex: yearbook), I can visually monitor where I am.
5. Unlike other time management tools, this isn't a fussy system. I'm not having to determine if items are an A or C priority. I'm not wasting time filling out different forms to determine my next action. If I make a note about a certain student, I just pull out the card, and add it to the student's file. Simple.
6. I'm right brained, so I like SEEING my tasks. And being able to move my tasks around is magical to me. This system might really appeal to creative types.

1. I wish the inserts were small enough to fit in a Filofax or Day Timer.
2. Making my own cards is an exercise, for me, in patience.

The best part of this review? SCAN CARDS ARE BACK! You can buy the panels and cards (whew!) at:

Overall rating, I give ScanCards a 9.5 out of 10. (I want the panels in a smaller size and the good news is...the company is planning on producing them! YEY!)

Review: M by Staples™ Arc Customizable Poly Notebooks

For a long time I have heard about disc bound notebooks. Circa, Rollabind, and Myndology were the brands I have heard about. I was impressed by the number of people who seemed to love disc bound notebooks, planners, and journals. I found these systems to be either expensive or hard to find. I found the M by Staples Arc Customizable Notebook to be both easy to find and in a price range I could afford.
I purchased the 6-3/8”x8-3/4” notebook with a vinyl cover. My cover is plain blue. I also purchased graph paper and a set of 5 dividers. The discs are 3/4” in diameter, and black.
I use this notebook to track my projects and goals as well as recording writing ideas. I enjoy the ability of the notebook to fold around, like a spiral bound notebook. I like the firmness of the notebook. The paper that is provided with the system I feel is good quality. The vinyl the covers are made from is thick. The dividers are holding up well, and the discs are doing well. Accessories for the system are priced reasonably.
I have been using Pilot G2 pens, and some ballpoint pens with this notebook. The pens I have used have not bled through. I do not see shadows on the back of the pages. I am impressed with the quality of the paper Staples created for these notebooks.
I have four notebooks from various manufactures they are all Moleskin style. Notebooks, except for this one. It has become my favorite notebook.

  • Affordable
  • Good quality
  • Punch for the system is affordable
  • Easy to find
  • Lots of accessories


  • Bound to buying paper from Staples, or punching your own.

I rate this a 10 out of 10.

Review: Markings by C.R. Gibson - Large Journal with Graph Paper

When I came across Markings by C.R. Gibson I was looking for an alternative to the Moleskine notebook. I like graph paper in my notebooks, and that is what this one is. I believe the graph paper to be rare, or no longer produced as I have not been able to find reference to it on the C.R. Gibson website.

My notebook has a black bonded leather cover in the large size. The bonded leather cover has some overhang, which may protect the pages, but it is defiantly not as nice looking as a Moleskine of the same size. There is also a stitch going around the edge of the notebook. The cover takes the wear of being in a backpack with cords, iPad, pocket knives, and stuff well.

It has the features of a Moleskin notebook; elastic to hold it closed and pocket in the back. The elastic is looser than I would like, but it still holds the book together. I believe the pocket is well made, if more utilitarian looking than most rear Moleskin pockets.

So far I have used Pilot G2 pens with this notebook, and they take the ink well. I see shadows on the reverse side of the pages when I write on the back, but the ink does not bleed through. Based on the use of the pens I have used I have seen comparable paper to the Moleskine in quality.

I do not believe I would purchase another one of these, but I am not disappointed in its quality to much. If the elastic were just a little tighter I think this could be a serious contender for future purchases.


  • Slightly less expensive
  • Easier to find, as it is available in more locations (Target, Staples, etc.).
  • Paper works well with Gel pens.
  • Cover is heavy duty.


  • Lacks a certain amount of style when put next to a Moleskine.
  • Elastic is looser than what I would expect.

I give it a rating of 6 out of 10.  

Review: Fan to Pro

Steven Savage is no stranger when it comes to turning his passions into viable career options. The creator of the awesome generator site Seventh Sanctum, which I've mentioned several times on the site here, Savage now coaches people on how their hobbies can push them forward in a business arena. His first book, Fan to Pro, is a wonderful how-to guide on how you can use your hobbies and fandoms to build or improve your careers. This book isn't like any other business or career guide. Savage focuses on the things what you do outside of the office and the cube farm and shows you how to turn those hidden talents and gems into new opportunities in career growth.

The basic idea is that we spent a lot of hours involved in our hobbies and passions. In some cases we learn new skills as a result of being involved with them. Savage believes that it is in this area where we can get futile markets for job/career opportunities. Sounds a bit unrealistic? Well, the site you're reading this review on is a real-life example of the principles of this book. Doug taught himself how to use the Adobe Creative Suite so he could save money by creating planner form refills. Then he decided to drop these forms online for others to share. Finally, after seeing how many people out there enjoyed the forms, he decided to create D*I*Y Planner as a destination on the web for paper and pen geeks to hang out and swap new ideas and tips. Without that passion, the D*I*Y Planner form kits would never have existed. And without those forms, then this site and all you passionate people about paper and pens would have to go elsewhere to find ways to connect and geek out on paper and pen products.

Crafting Unique Pens, an interview with Anthony Dupre

Editor’s Note: Luckily for me, my husband’s boss, Anthony Dupre, is a woodmaker and a big do it yourselfer. Two months ago I was gifted with a lovely handmade fountain pen that Anthony crafted from materials my husband selected. I consider this pen a heirloom item and pressured him to tell his tale. Finally, we just sat down to do an interview-style article.

How did you get started in woodworking?
Anthony: A few years ago, I received a small lathe as a christmas present. It was love at first sight. I set it up in my shop / garage and started turning. I started with bowls, goblets, and tool handles and then got hooked on turning pens. 

What motivated you to start creating your own pens?
The inability to find a pen that matched my style (well, within a reasonable budget that is). I also simply enjoy making things from scratch in general. I was also looking for projects I could turn for gift that would get used and not just thrown on a shelf. Pens are a perfect gift in that regard.

Review: I'd Rather Be in the Studio

First, I'd like to apologize to the author, Alyson B. Stanfield, for having taken a year to read and review this book. She graciously gave me a copy and in between my busy schedule, and reading the book, I got lost. In fact, I started this book three times over. Not because it was a bad book but because it was so chock full of good advice that every time I picked it up and read a bit more, my mind would churn and I'd go off to put some of her advice into practice. Time passed and I'd have to go and start it all over, just so I could make sure I gave the book a proper reading to write this review.

I'd Rather Be In the Studio is an amazing book that, while targeting artists looking to build their business and promote themselves, I'd highly recommend it to anyone looking to promote their passions. Stanfield structures the book around eight basic excuses that artists (and writers, *ahem* *cough*) conjure up when faced with marketing and self-promoting themselves and their work— excuses such as "I don't have the time," or "There aren't enough hours in the day to do it all," or "I'm an introvert." Stanfield refutes each excuse in detail before going into the action-chapters that help to combat each excuse. For example, she mentions in the "My art speaks for itself" excuse that an artist's work never really speaks for itself, that when others say things about an artist's piece of art, they are simply reacting to it (good or bad). Then she follows up this section with two chapters: one that shows you how to harness the power of an artist statement, and another on speaking or teaching as an expert in the field.

Shoot-out Review: Cheap Fountain Pens, The Next Generation: Chapter 2: Platinum Preppy

OK, folks. Here we have a line of pens that are so cheap they would thrill Scrooge McDuck. And I mean cheap as in inexpensive, not cheap as in poorly made.

[NOTE: I will add pictures in a bit, but I wanted to get this out - use the links to see the pens at the sellers]


First Impressions (8/10) – Nice, simple, solid pen.

Appearance & Design (9/10) – Classic design in seven different colors of both pen body and matching inks.

Weight & Dimensions (8/10) – Average weight and dimension for a full size pen. Very comfortable in the hand.

Nib & Performance (8/10) – I got one of the "Fine 03" nibs. Jet Pens also carries a "Medium 05" nib. It writes very smooth with no visible feathering on the cheap index cards I use.

Filling System (10+/10) - Here's the Magic ! The Preppy is easily converted into an Eyedropper pen, using the entire pen barrel to hold ink. JetPens sells the O-ring gaskets needed for this conversion and they have even posted a How-To article here

Cost & Value (10/10) – Pens are US$ 3 each from either Jet Pens or J-Stationeryand a 10-pack of O-rings costs US$ 3 from JetPens. Refill cartridges are US$ 1.50 for two and they come in LOTS of different colors.

Conclusion (Final score[53]: 8.8) - Some folks on FountainPen Network have grouched a bit about these pens leaking or clogging occasionally, but I believe you are getting a great pen for the money.

And it does not end there !

Platinum Preppy comes as a highlighter and a felt-tip marker (they call them Sign Pens) for US$2.25 each. When you want to change color, they sell replacement tips for both the highlighter and the sign-pen in a two-pack for US$1.50

Noodler's Ink offers package deals of large bottles of ink with eyedroppers. Some (not all) also include an eyedropper converted Preppy pen. JetPens offers eight different eyedropper bottles here, three of which include a free pen. They offer one more here that includes two pens and a white ink here that includes a free sign pen marker. The Noodler's Firefly Yellow ink is the only highlighter ink at JetPens, but Noodler's makes several different colors intended for highlighters.

Review: Quo Vadis Habana Notebook

Earlier this year the fine folks at Exaclair, Inc. (distributors of Quo Vadis, Rhodia, and Clairfontaine notebook lines) sent me out a little goodie box. In this box, was a Quo Vadis Habana notebook. For the past few months I’ve been using this journal to chronicle my tarot degree homework. As you can see from the image, I even customized the Habana with a sticker a friend made for me. Now, it’s time to share my thoughts on the notebook with you all.

I received a Large Habana notebook and it measures 6 1/4 x 9 1/4". It’s about an inch longer and wider than the large Moleskine. For me, this doesn’t pose a problem but for people who are comfortable and familiar with the smaller size, it may take some getting used to. A paper band touting the features of the notebook sits wrapped around the notebook. I quickly removed this band before snapping any photos, guess I was too eager to break in the new toy. A pamphlet sits inside the book cover that talks about Quo Vadis and Clairfontaine's commitment to helping our natural resources by making greener paper processes and products. Click the link to read the rest of my review.

Review: Scrivener for Mac

I've been searching for the perfect writing software for awhile now. I know that this mythical software won't improve my writing skills per se. But having the right type of writing software does help keep what I write and its structure organized while I work on choosing the precise words and setting them down onto the virtual page. As such, I've used several different applications geared towards writing professionals, and I think I have found the right application for both my writing needs and style. It's called Scrivener and it’s published by Literature and Latte.

Over the years I've found that writing a book or novel requires much more than just starting at the beginning and working your way to THE END. Writing the first draft gets messy and sometimes authors don't want to write the whole piece from the beginning. Instead we may want to focus on character sketches, world building, or we may just want to get the most exciting climatic scene written first. Using a traditional word processor where everything is entered into a single document, containing multiple non-linear thoughts on a myriad of subjects, is hard to do. MS Word was not designed for creative, chaotic writing that jumps around; it doesn't conform to non-linear thought patterns. If I were using Word to do heavy writing, the moment I decide to skip 100 pages into the text to first revise a scene and then move somewhere else to jot a note about a character, I'd end up spending more time searching for the two locations than I'd spend actually typing in the text itself. That's where modular writing and Scrivener come into play.