We consider ourselves very fortunate to live behind the shop - as small business owners but mostly as parents, it's been logistically possible to balance eating dinner together every night with being able to take a few steps into "work" after Caleb's bedtime, answering emails that need an inventory check in the warehouse, setting up displays in the shopfront, packing a few urgent orders, or unpacking and organizing inventory from new shipments after a busy day. This has also meant, both good and sometimes bad, a very short commute to work. Notwithstanding the idea of a work/life balance, and the occasional need to step away from it all, the good is abundant: saving hours and hours each week in commuting, saving money in either transit or parking, being able to have Caleb around, and for him to be able to nap easily or follow his own routines.
But I do sometimes miss the rituals of sorting things into my bag, and picking up a coffee or flowers on the way to work, sitting on a streetcar with the window open (potentially what I really miss is the independence afforded me before I had Caleb - hah!). Despite occasionally waxing nostalgic about my first year of teaching where I commuted for hours a day listening to audio books in the car, though, I certainly don't have any delusions about hours-long commutes fighting traffic and construction and snow, and so I suppose I'll have to save my rose-tinted glasses for another time, and especially considering my overall and general wussiness when it comes to cold weather. At the end of the day, I strongly believe in a more sustainable live + work philosophy of living close to where you work, for environmental reasons, but especially for contributing to and supporting the community you live in - the libraries and community centres, the cafes and small shops. I loved living close enough to walk to the school I was teaching at. You fully appreciate the changing seasons and getting to know the small businesses you pick up your coffee or lunch from, and you're outside! Breathing air and feeling the sun on your face! You're not a vampire! We're not vampires here. But recently I've had a few more appointments around the city, downtown in particular, and I've had reason to manage a bit of an everyday carry, beyond just my wallet and a book when I go out to run a specific errand. Not leaving the house to go to work everyday means I haven't quite honed this system down, and I'm tweaking it as I go, but here's what I'm carrying out with me these days when I know I'm going to be out for the day. The first step is finding the right bag, and I found that the best way to do this was to look at reviews focusing on the best rucksack for work, that way you know you're going to find something with plenty of room, and most importantly something that is durable enough for regular use. The last thing you want is to be running late for an appointment then have to deal with a broken bag that has spilled all its contents out onto the floor! I got my backpack from Roots - I can't quite find my exact model on their website so perhaps it is discontinued, but the one I have is a smaller size than their standard backpack, which is great for me as I'm a small human. This one does not fit a standard Mac 13" laptop, which initially I thought was a bit sad, but it turns out that I don't need all of my electronics strapped to my back whenever I step out into the world.
  • Wallet - made by Superior Labor
  • Sunglasses
  • Coffee mug* (either with coffee or water, and I can pick up something on the road)
  • Book
  • Cloth napkin - this one is from Classiky
  • Mini Rhodia pad, in my front pocket
  • Spare preppies for fellow travelers I meet on the TTC (or wherever)
  • Rollerball/gel pen (for when I need to pull out a writing instrument, and it doesn't seem like a good opportunity to whip out something crazy)
  • Phone
  • A5 Portfolio with all of my paper and pen things
I also have coins and lip balm and hair elastics and if I'm lucky a TTC token floating around loose in my front pocket. I also generally have a snack for Caleb, and sometimes a toy car, but Caleb now has his own backpack which he enjoys carrying out, and I usually enjoy the surprises he has in there. *My coffee mug is really super, and as someone who has used probably ten or more coffee mugs that have all ended up in the trash, I can tell you I got two of them, plus one for Jon. I initially got a small lime green one for me, but Caleb has since inherited it, so I got another one which is slightly larger. In addition to keeping hot drinks hot, it keeps cold drinks, like milk, cold for hours on end, so we can bring it on long car rides or out for the day. It is also dishwasher safe and leak-proof (or at the very least, has never leaked on me, even rolling around in car trunks, at the bottom of bags, buried in sand at the park, etc.).
Superior Labor Wonder Pens A5 Portfolio
Inside my A5 Portfolio
  • Olive Traveler's Notebook (or whatever other notebook I need)
  • appointment papers, etc. for the day
  • index cards or note cards
  • stamps
  • TWSBI 580 Turquoise
  • Lamy 4-color/colour ballpoint
  • in this case, a few letters I want to send out - although mostly I put my own personal letters in with the lettermail packages that are being sent from the shop
  • a few letters to respond to, and some extra stationery
Occasionally I will squeeze in a few extra pens on the inside as well, in a pen case if I'm worried about scratches, although that's not typically something I worry about. I also have some random papers/receipts and things that I clean out every once in a while. I love having the portfolio to keep everything papery and small organized, which has also meant that the inside of my bag is more organized, and papers are less often crumpled. I can also grab it and take out at a cafe and have everything I need close at hand. I've been using my Traveler's Notebook for journaling and writing, and it's a truly nice moment if I get to occupy Caleb with a snack at a cafe for a break while I dip into writing. This, of course, does not happen often, but perhaps it is more precious when it does. My work notebook is a B5, which is a little large for carrying around unless I know I'm specifically going to be spending time on it. I will often use either a spare page or an index card if I'm taking other sorts of notes, with ideas for a blog post, or trying to scribble down some ideas for a shop project.
Superior Labor A5 Portfolio
Wonder Pens Superior Labor Portfolio Leather
I'm sorry to say that our A5 sized portfolio is sold out, but we should be getting more in around two months. We're also getting a few new colours as well. If you sign up for the e-mail notification, it'll notify you when we get our shipment in, and then you can also take a look at the other colours available. If I know I'm going out and there will be time in a cafe or at a park picnic for writing, I might add in a few extras, usually in a pouch like my Superior Labor, with my watercolour tin and a paintbrush, some washi tape, a small pair of scissors. At a certain point it moves from an "everyday carry" to "Liz's traveling stationery supply show," but I'm working on bringing and using supplies that I cherish and use meaningfully.

Related Posts

June 20, 2017 — wonderpens



Lee said:

I love seeing others share what’s in their backpack/purse. It’s so interesting what some consider to be essential or extraneous. I also have the Zojirushi drink container in the same color! It truly is amazing. Though, it did leak the one time I accidentally put sparkling water in it…


wonderpens said:

I completely agree! It’s sort of a sneak peek into someone’s personal behind the scenes.

I’m so surprised to hear yours leaked, although I’m glad you shared your experience! Caleb’s has really gone through the ringer, bouncing off jungle gyms, rolling around in the car, being flung across the shop and is still okay – but I suppose I shouldn’t put too much blind faith in my coffee vessel next to some of my favourite paper and leather goods in my backpack :)

Tina Koyama

Tina Koyama said:

Thanks for the peek into your bag! One of my ongoing obsessions is trying to streamline my bag even as I add to it, so I am always interested in seeing what others carry day to day.

- Tina


wonderpens said:

Thanks so much for reading! I love to see what other people are using, and hope to gain a few tips and tricks for myself. I’m also like you, trying to see what I can slim down on or perhaps don’t need – although in my case, I always seem to be bringing a little back up! :)


wonderpens said:

We can special order it! If you’re interested, you can send us an email info@wonderpens.ca .

You can see all the colours here: https://www.instagram.com/p/5DzHLdo3SJ/?taken-by=thesuperiorlabor_bbshop
Mine is on the far left, although it has darkened considerably over the few years I’ve had it. It is around $360 CAD (30 000 yen).


wonderpens said:

Thank you! :)

Photo was courtesy of Jon!


wonderpens said:

Caleb is not bad at eating in cafes! Surprisingly, he’s better than at home, when he sometimes requires some assistance to focus on eating – I think it’s because he really, really enjoys watching trucks and cars and people with dogs walking past windows. I will admit, though, that Caleb also really enjoys testing out my pens, and it sometimes gets me a bit nervous! :)


Lauren said:

Will you bring in the wallet by Superior Labor? Pretty please? :)


Nella said:

Absolutely love your last photo.

Bridget Greer

Bridget Greer said:

Liz – brilliant idea to use the kaweco tin for your paints. I must try that!


wonderpens said:

It’s great! I know it’s common to use other types of tins, but I love using my Kaweco tins from my pens as I can re-purpose them for something to use rather than having them gather dust.

I did a blog post on how I made mine, and I only just recently changed out the colours to freshen it up: https://blog.wonderpens.ca/watercolour-set-in-your-kaweco-tin-case/


Melodie said:

It’s so fun to get a peek inside your everyday carry! I need to be better about toning down what I carry with me because I want to bring everything! I sometimes half-joke that I’m training N to be an emotional eater just so I can get a few moments peace (though that quickly ends if I attempt to bring out my pens)

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.