A Merry Christmas

A Merry Christmas

We made it! All the way through our holiday season, and out the other side. We're wishing you some merry and bright days ahead, truly. We're looking forward to some calm ourselves. It's been one crazy holiday season, another one for the books. As always, we've had shipments coming in, boxes stacked on top of boxes, and us lost in the maze of shelves and boxes and recycling. The shop door bell has been ringing like crazy, and as someone very short, every time I go out there with the crowds, I feel like I'm about to get lost. What a wonderful thing, to realize that people haven't forgotten about writing. I love that what we offer here aren't just generic gifts or "stuff," but truly tools that can bring so much meaning into someone's life. In the midst of all the holiday shopping and crowds at the mall, I like to think that our shop is a bit different. I love that when people walk through our doors, the things on our shelves are tools and supplies to help people slow down. These are gifts that I honestly hope people will love and use for a lifetime. I can't count the number of people who have said getting a fountain pen has encouraged them to take time with their writing, who have reconnected with friends through letter writing, who have begun journals or recording their travels, or who simply just enjoy writing again. Even though a pen can sometimes be seen as a trite gift for a graduate or a boss, I think a quality fountain pen, with a bottle of ink, comes with the ritual and process of filling and thinking and carefully putting words on a page. But of course, we couldn't do any of this without our wonder team. I'm mostly in the back with the baby, and it's sort of a joke that I'm a bit rusty out front whenever people ask really complicated questions, like how much does this pen cost, or do you have any more Leuchtturm dot notebooks. I suppose like all jokes, it's only funny because it has a grain of truth. But we really couldn't do it without the hustle in the back getting orders out and inventory counted, and our front staff, who are keep the shop clean and stocked and looking great, but most importantly, do a pretty amazing job helping people figure out what exactly they're looking for or need. These guys make everything possible, and we are so thankful for them. L-R Jon, baby, Sarah, Danielle, Brendan, Micah, Caleb, Derrick (Liz behind camera, Super eating something off the staff table, Chicken lurking in a cardboard box somewhere)
Our busiest day of the year - the last Saturday before Christmas - was even crazier than usual. We had our staff breakfast in the morning, and then in the middle of the day when I was running a load of a laundry in an effort to get things cleaned before we head up to the cottage, Caleb pulled out the hose from the laundry machine and there was a mess everywhere. Following that, we had Christmas dinner at my in-laws. Last year I was asked if my dish (Hong Kong style curry fishballs) was "for the kids" (two 2-year olds and an infant), so clearly this year I had to bring something a bit more serious. In any case, it's Christmas Eve, and we survived another holiday season. We'll be on our way up to the cottage soon. The shop will be closed December 25th and 26th, but open again on the 27th. However, we're taking an extra few days, since Caleb will be off preschool, and I can't wait to see all the snow up there, everything pristine and fresh. I've got big and small plans: hot chocolate, blog posts, thick books and popcorn. Snow shoes, pen cleaning, steaming soup and a wood stove crackling. Caleb got this hilarious moose balaclava thing for Christmas from his grandpa and I can't wait to watch him bobbing out there in the snow. Wishing you a merry Christmas, and all the greetings of the season.
December 24, 2017 — wonderpens
Renovations at the Studio Shop

Renovations at the Studio Shop

While the clock is counting down to the 25th, things are bustling here in the shop and the warehouse, things are also coming along at the new studio shop. Renovations! It's an exciting time, if an extremely stressful and uncertain process to set up this new space - there seem to be a lot of moving pieces, and the checklists just seem to get longer and longer. Jon's checklist includes: - follow up with zoning/permits - arrange Dumpster Rental - meet with HVAC guy - follow up with structural engineer guy for plans - find a new exterior door - remove drop ceiling - rip up carpet that's glued to floorboards - fix backyard gate that jams shut - try to salvage flooring - pick up lighting fixtures - find furniture that Liz likes, that is inexpensive, and not difficult to move - ensure deerheads stay alive - stress out about ballooning budget Liz's checklist includes: - find best sunlight for plants in the new space - tell Jon how important it is to ensure deerheads stay alive - bring snacks Jon has been going back and forth almost daily, and I go with him maybe once a week with the baby. These photos are only from a few weeks ago, and I think these photos are already outdated. Here's one last shot of the inside of the shop before construction began. It's hard to give a good impression of the space because it's broken up into hallways and rooms, but as things happen - and hopefully if you one day come and visit! - you'll see how the space comes together. The walls here will mostly be gone by the time the shop is ready. I'm going to be sad to see some of the architectural detail of this place go, but we're planning on opening up the first floor entirely for the shop space. We're going to try to keep as much as possible, but it's also made of plaster, so much of it is quite fragile. In the shop front, there are two fireplaces, but only one of them is real (this one, I think). There's also brick that's slowly being exposed, a dusty thrill. Upstairs there's also a bit of magic happening - drop ceilings coming down, wires hanging everywhere, carpet being torn up. Actually I may be one of the few people that likes carpet - for all its disadvantages, it's comfortable for bare feet, babies learning to crawl, toddlers lying on it daydreaming, it quiets dog's claws clicking on hard floors and it also stops Super from doing that ineffective but very noisy scampering/scurrying in one spot thing he does. But this carpet is not the sort of carpet you want babies crawling on. Brick everywhere! And also dust. And hidden away in the drop ceiling: these lion... door stoppers? decorative statues? coasters? You have to thank Jon for this photo of the dumpster coming in - I was sad to miss the event! Caleb would also have loved to have been there - I think the biweekly removal and delivery of the dumpster in our courtyard makes up for the lack of television in our household. The dumpster is already almost full from the materials from the drop ceilings and partition walls. And here's a peek at our third floor, which leads out onto the terrace. We're not doing any work here, so I'm reveling in the (relatively) clean and bright space. Just imagine! A husband making breakfast for you, and bringing it up here to eat out on the terrace, perhaps with a good book and a sleepy pup. And maybe even with two babies fast asleep? Too much to ask for? One can dream. So things are happening! There's a saying about how no one wants to see how the sausage gets made, and I'm not sure how that fits in here: who wants to see empty dumpsters and rooms with scary wires dangling from the ceiling and weird decorative lion pieces? Let me tell you though, from the perspective of the sausage, things are pretty intense. Juggling preschool pick ups with scrounging in the freezer for dinner and unpacking boxes and stacks of orders waiting to be processed and Christmas shopping for in-laws and meetings with surveyors and guys who test for asbestos (what??) and the baby's two month check up and the water tank is leaking in our bathroom but it's okay because it's conveniently located above the sink so it just drips right in and drips right out who cares if it's hard to brush your teeth without weird water dripping into your toothpaste Liz just lean to the side. Despite it all, it's the best sort of thrill, seeing things come apart and come together. We've passed the first hump in the roller coaster, when you go up very slowly and you look down and you're beginning to realize there's no escape and I look at Jon and Jon is looking pretty serious. Now we're just barreling forward up and down loops and hills, and I can only hope no one loses their glasses. Every once in a while both babies are asleep (like right now) and I sit and I hum and I wonder at this crazy journey. Everything looks pretty wild right now, and the amount of Reese Pieces I've consumed could literally be measured in pounds at this point, but I can't wait to see how it's all going to turn out. And in light of all this construction talk, I thought I'd share a lovely joke with you. At the kitchen table after school the other day, Caleb was playing with his fork, and used it to lever a book up. He looked at me and said with a grin: "forklift."
December 16, 2017 — wonderpens
Holiday Hours

Holiday Hours

We're excited to announce our holiday hours, for this most wonderful time of the year. We're going to be open seven days a week up until Christmas Eve, when we're open 11-2. Saturdays 11-6 Sundays 12-5 Monday to Friday 11-7 Christmas Eve Sunday 11-2 Normal hours resume after Christmas + Boxing Day. Unfortunately we're going to be cancelling the Letter Writing Club for December. I will miss the few hours of calm and writing and company, but I'm hoping to write a blog post on Christmas correspondence soon in the meantime. We hope to see a few of you over the next couple of weeks, whether you're shopping for just the right gift, or something small for someone who's not expecting it, or just to say hello and maybe pick up some Christmas cards or a treat to reward yourself for getting through the season.* The longer we've been in the business, the more we get to know other families who run shops, and I love both commiserating and celebrating how to make it work. We comprise an interesting sort of demographic, shop families: parents who have the flexibility to pick up their kids from school in the middle of the workday, but who bring them "home" to a shop where they ride a toy car between shelves and packing material. Kids who are used to late dinners or Saturdays in the shop or who practice counting with new inventory coming in. I never really noticed these shop kids before I opened a shop, or I suppose before we had Caleb, but I wonder when these kids will start figuring out things are a little different for them. As Jon and I were contemplating the next few weeks of packing orders into the night, I said to Jon that things will be much easier once Caleb is old enough at least to start pulling orders, half in jest. This is the busiest time of year for us, as we have shipments arriving from around the world to be counted and stacked on shelves, or in boxes in front of shelves, as we see more and more faces coming through our doors, as we answer questions over email and phone, as we pack up orders and rush them out the door. I love the rush and the new things and the smell of fresh paper, but being open seven days a week during this time a year is also a choice we made while thinking about Caleb, and soon for the baby, and how we want them to remember Christmas. But the truth of it is that as much as Caleb will get older and will start having more and more responsibilities, I still want him to experience all the wonder of childhood. The post is titled Holiday Hours, which is literally what it's about - the hours the shop will be open this holiday season - but it's also sort of a few thoughts on how we're spending these holiday hours, these fleeting moments, during this blessed and beautiful time, especially while these babes are still babes. We're open seven days a week in December, and running some very long days (and nights), but I still want to go on a few Christmas adventures and celebrate our own traditions. Is it not a rite of passage for any Torontonian to face the holiday crowds at Eaton's Centre at least once, if only to come back empty-handed and catatonic? I want to trek out of the city for a Christmas tree, or make it to the Distillery District for the Christmas market, or get some eggnog,** which I'm sure Caleb will find gross. Or maybe not, Caleb's into some pretty strange things for a kid. In any case, it's a constantly wavering balance to try and keep the magic of the season alive for bright eyes waiting for Santa, while keeping an analogue business afloat.

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In case you missed it, we named the baby Naomi. With Caleb, he settled into the name very quickly, but this baby has seemed to be a nameless for quite some time. It's hard to predict how babies will grow into their names - a lot of pressure to get it right. And who knows if we did... In other news, Chicken continues to educate me on the lives of cats. Sometimes it's these small wonders in life that keep you alive. We temporarily moved our mirror to the floor, and Chicken has been thoroughly agitated by the presence of another cat - "another cat" - and has been doing his best to beat him up.   Ears back, paws out: how we all should approach the tough times in life. Chicken has spent an astounding amount of time stalking back and forth in front of the mirror, up on his hind legs, scratching and pawing at this doppelganger. I know this because I put the baby down for her naps on the bed from which this photo is taken, and I have to keep trying to shoo him away. It's crazy because I think Chicken forgets this other cat is there in between each boxing session: every once in a while he'll walk in front of the mirror, and be startled by this "new" cat and go through the exact same routine again. Caleb, of course, thinks it's just hilarious. I don't know that Super is any sort of genius dog but I'll give him that he leaves a mirror to be a mirror.  Then again, he is, indeed, the dog who tried to attack a large lamp someone left beside a garbage bin on the street, so perhaps to each his own.   Currently reading: Kyo Maclear's The Letter Opener Currently eating: persimmons by the box Currently writing: in a B6 slim Midori MD notebook, with a Pelikan M200 (Diamine Ochre), Pilot Custom 92 (Sailor Grenade), Caran d'Ache Swiss Wood pencil (ugh this pencil is too delicious to bear) Currently dreaming of: butter chicken and naan Latest heard from the mouth of babes (Caleb): "Baby Jesus doesn't like the sheep. He only likes the moose."     *When I need a pick-me-up, I order a box of Pilot disposable B2P gel pens for the thrill of it. I have several lovely boxes of them hiding in my stationery cupboard. **I'm really into this eggnog from Harmony which I'm determined to hunt down this year. The last few years of the shop I missed out on it because we were too busy and Harmony only produces it seasonally, but no more of that too-busy nonsense.
November 28, 2017 — wonderpens
What's in My Pen Roll

What's in My Pen Roll

On the weekend, Jon went out to run a few errands, the babies both took an afternoon nap, and I spent a few glorious minutes re-organized my stationery supplies. The pangs of withdrawal, the anxiety, my fingers itchy to have all my pens together again. (Can you tell it's been a while?) Wonder Pens Blog It's been a bit hectic here for the last few weeks, with the arrival of the baby, follow-up appointments with the midwife, Scriptus, beginning to get some big shipments for the holidays. I've left notebooks here and there, fountain pens all over the apartment, a few with ink in them for several weeks or longer because I hadn't been writing very much, and my desk a complete mess. It was nice to clear off some desk space, put away things properly, and finally clean out a few pens. There really is nothing like having all of your tools taken care of and ready to use: either cleaned out and put away, or freshly inked and ready to go, organized nicely in your pen roll or pen case or wherever you keep them. I guess it's partially the guilt I feel when I know my pens have ink slowly drying up in them (or, even worse, the horror of temporarily misplacing a pen that you know has ink in it and searching everywhere), but it's also the feeling of potential, all my words and thoughts ready to transposed at the snap of a cap. TWSBI Sailor fountain pen Toronto Canada We've gotten a lot of new inks in the shop recently, Kobe and Bungubox, or even the Kyo No Oto and Kyo Iro, or Caran d'ache inks, and while I haven't had much time to test them out, I decided to mostly stick with a few old favourites to get me back in the saddle. TWSBI 580 AL Turquoise F - Rohrer and Klingner Blau Permanent TWSBI Mini AL Gold B - Diamine Tudor Blue Vintage Parker from Scriptus - J. Herbin Lie de The Sailor 1911S Transparent M - Pelikan 4001 Brown Sailor 1911S Anchor Grey B - Diamine Terracotta Lamy Vista F - Kyo No Oto Aonibi (#5) Wonder Pens Ink Samples The swab for the Lie de the is directly from the bottle, but the writing sample from the Parker is a bit off, as I think there must have been some residual black ink in the pen that mixed with the brown. Just don't look too close, and squint a little. Wonder Pens Ink Samples Diamine Terracotta Writing Sample This Diamine Terracotta is one of my favourite inks, but I've actually not had it in a pen since I wrote about it on the blog two years ago. It's one of those things where I got into this business because I loved stationery and writing, but with running the shop and needing to test out and try and know all of the products, I sometimes don't get to spend as much time as I'd like with favourites. I know, I know: what a problem to have. Wonder Pens Fountain pens Toronto Canada Lamy Safari 14K nib Canada On my Vista, I have a 14K fine nib. I certainly don't mind a steel nib, but I wrote with Jon's Imporium and really liked the nib. I'm normally not someone who particularly likes fine nibs, although I have a few, but this nib had just the right amount of ever so slight bounce and flow and feel against the page. Jon had to order a new 14K nib for himself. Diamine Tudor Blue Writing Sample And this is Diamine Tudor Blue, in my TWSBI AL Mini Gold, broad. Both of these are fairly new to me, but I love them both. The Tudor Blue is a darkish blue but still clearly a blue (rather than a blue black), and has some subtle shading. And the AL Mini is a great size for me and I love the hint of gold. So these are them! Three blues and three browns, my pens for now, this cool and slightly grim season between the beauty of fall and the rush of jingle bells. I don't think they'll last to Christmas, with inks for Christmas cards and Christmas notes still to come, but I'm enjoying this new set of writers in my pen roll. Fountain pens toronto Canada

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In any case, I hope you're all doing well, and finding a little time to enjoy your favourite rituals in life, whatever they are. I'm reading a book right now that describes a morning scene of the ritual of making coffee for a woman who has lived alone most of her life: grinding the beans, boiling the water, watching out a window. Before the day begins, she breathes in and out and takes her first sip of coffee. It feels like it'll be a while yet before I can embrace solitude in my life - without searching for socks or a hungry baby or trying to get a load of laundry in - but I'll take the rituals I have when I can get them. Traditions, processes, the things that make up and enrich our days and lives. The process of organizing, and decluttering. Taking the time to clean out pens, put some away and choose the right inks for the rest, to match the season and my mood and what's ahead. Date and place on the first line, waiting for all those dreams to come out of my pens onto the page. Superior Labor Pen Roll
November 20, 2017 — wonderpens
Scriptus Toronto Pen Show - Sunday, October 29th

Scriptus Toronto Pen Show - Sunday, October 29th

It's that time of year again! Leaves and hot tea and books and Scriptus, our favourite annual meeting of fountain pen enthusiasts. It's a one day pen show, where retailers like us, vintage pen restorers and repairers, and other stationery related folks all gather together and show off some analogue tools. This year it's taking place Sunday, October 29th, from 10 am to 4 pm, at the Toronto Reference Library. The library is big, but on the day of, there will be signs from the front entrance pointing you all the way to Appel Salon on the second floor where the pen show is hosted. You can see more information on the official Scriptus website. Scriptus Toronto Pen Show At Scriptus, there's lots happening. There are, of course, modern and vintage pens for sale, inks and notebooks, pen storage, calligraphy supplies. The 2017 Show Ink, Confederation Brown, is made by KWZ, and it's an olive, army brown green. The last two years of show inks have sold out very quickly, even with a 2-bottle per person limit, so it's best to pick up the ink early! There's a raffle, where you can purchase tickets to enter to win several different prizes. You can see many of the prizes offered on the Scriptus Facebook page, and follow along for more updates and details leading up to the show. We donated an Edison Collier and some Kobe Ink (No. 8 Arima Amber) and a button! Obviously the button is the real score ;) This year there is also a Show Pen, a beautiful red ebonite fountain pen made by Bexley, limited to 150 numbered pieces. The pen is available for pre-order or purchase even if you don't attend the show. Jon ordered one for me, and I can't wait to see it. It will be my first Bexley! And we have our own surprises in store. Special Scriptus postcards and special Scriptus buttons...what excitement! Wonder Pens at Scriptus 2016 Like last year, we'll have a few colourful things from our friends at Franklin-Christoph. It's a mixed blessing, really, because I have to stop myself from keeping them all myself. I sort of to keep it together when I see folks fingering my favourites. Also very exciting, we have some brand new inks to debut at the show, and which we'll be carrying regularly after - I think this may be the first time they're available for sale from within Canada! Last year I know a few folks were disappointed we didn't bring everything they wanted to see or try out at the show, so if you come and visit us at the show, you can pick up a card for 5% off store wide at brick and mortar shop, only good for the day of the pen show (Sunday, October 29th, 2017). Our shop will be open from 1-5 pm. If you have something in particular you'd like to see feel free to send us an email or leave a comment in the blog. I can't make any promises (wouldn't Jon just love that), as we have limited room on our tables, but more importantly in the cars, but if there's a lot of interest, we'll definitely keep it in mind. If you'd like to pick up an online order please call ahead to make sure we get to it in time. We process orders as they come in, but please touch base with us to make we've got everything. If you don't hear back from us, likely we have not processed your in-store pick-up order yet, and will not have packed it up for the show. In case you missed it or will be missing it, here are blog posts from our visits to the show 2016, 2015, and 2014. Last year was our first year exhibiting, and it was a blast. You can tell we're big fans of this show. Bonus content: I "interviewed" Philip Akin, one of the show's organizers, about the show a year or two back.

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In other news, we finally had our baby! As predicted by doctors, midwives and strangers alike, she turned out to be big: 8 lbs 4oz. Thanks, Jon. We had hoped and expected baby girl to arrive early October and possibly even late September, but our goose needed a bit more cooking, and with some unexpected drama at the arrival, we're only now starting to settle in. Given my completely unfounded optimism, I had thought I would have a few weeks to adjust while preparing for Scriptus, but of course that was not to be - here we are with just under a week to go and a warehouse that has been upended. In the US, where there are a number of major pen shows throughout the year, there are a few retailers who attend several shows. It's times like these I wish I could be a bug on the wall and see how the experts prepare. Jon and I and the team have been planning and preparing while looking at each other and saying, uhhh hmmm...oh right, yes, that sounds like a good idea. Last year seemed to go alright, but it's all a blur now so we can't quite remember what we did. Jon and I look at each other over the dinner table and say things like "that square credit card reader still works right? where is that thing?" In any case, I hope to see some of you there! Please come and say hello, unless, of course, the baby is terrorizing me, in which case pretend like you don't notice us. I probably will personally only be there for the first half with the new baby and Caleb, before heading home early, but the team will be there all day long. I'm a bit sad to be missing out on the fun - the morning is the best sort of chaos and craziness, but I love the afternoon when it slows down a bit, and we can take a breath and we might even get a chance to walk around for ourselves. I can hardly believe the expansion and sprawl of our lives and our family and our business over the last five years - it seems like just yesterday Caleb unfurled into the world, shrieking and oogling and wiggling around. As you might imagine, everyone has greeted the new baby in their own way: Chicken has stayed aloof, occasionally coming in for a sniff while the baby is sleeping but otherwise watching from a distance, Super has stuck his snout right in for a few good licks every time he gets the chance, and Caleb wants to get involved in every way possible. It's funny what Caleb has picked up on, and his excitement at changing diapers and buttoning up onesies is both endearing and terrifying to watch in action.
October 23, 2017 — wonderpens
Tags: Scriptus
Where I Write: Merchants of Green Coffee

Where I Write: Merchants of Green Coffee

Usually summer is a bit of a slower season for us in the shop, but this summer has seemed busy - in a good way, mostly, but time seems to be moving at warp speed. The summer, while not quite over yet with this recent wave of warm days, culminated in taking a short trip to San Francisco with Caleb, my first time traveling alone with him, and I'm hoping to write more on that to come, but we've finally settled back into our routine as September marches on into October. A few weeks ago, on Labour Day Monday, we took a seemingly final family outing to Merchants of Green, a cafe introduced to me by a friend now a few years ago. It's tucked away on a side street off Queen, close to Guff, an antique furniture shop where we've picked up a few items for our shop. One of my favourite things about Merchants of Green is that they have a very large space, with lots of seating, so it's rare to go in and not be able to find a table. While Caleb has always been  generally a pretty patient kid, he of course still went through the phase after being an infant and relatively docile, to crawling and exploring and putting odd things in his mouth, making it difficult to enjoy a few minutes peace at a cafe. He's now old enough to sit quietly at a table, with a book or some pens and his milk - and possibly, if he's good, a few bites of someone else's treat. We've been spending many of our weekends either at the cottage or running errands in the city, but with Caleb starting preschool that Tuesday, the Monday before it seemed a bit like the end of an era. It was nice to take it easy and to celebrate with a stroll through the neighbourhood (although most of the shops were closed because of the holiday) and to enjoy a break from the shop. Caleb has always liked playing with fountain pens and pens, which I think just comes with the territory of living behind a stationery shop, and possibly also from the intense amount of withholding that happens with a toddler and expensive and easily damaged items. While there have been a few disasters with nibs, for the most part he knows how to get ink onto the page with a fountain pen without breaking anything Caleb is old enough now to sort of grasp the concept of ownership, and he has really embraced the idea that everyone has a set of pens that they use - he even has his own Nock Co pen roll. It's interesting because he has a very set idea about which pens he likes and wants, and he can be quite particular about filling up his case with his special pens. I think we make quite a scene when we spread out at a cafe, but it's sometimes the weirdos in life that make it interesting. I noticed this shot of Caleb when I was uploading these photos from my phone, drawing with a pen cap on his finger, and it gave me a bit of a pause. I'm not sure when Caleb got to be a boy, and it's no surprise that I'm ambivalent about how I feel about entering this new phase of childhood. I remember when I was a teacher seeing students with this habit - marker caps, pen caps, joking around with all five fingers Edward Scissorhands, but even just casually drawing with a marker cap on a finger tip  - and I have no idea where Caleb has learned it from. Certainly not from me or Jon (the risk of inky drops inside a fountain pen lid is deterrent enough, even if either of us hadn't outgrown this habit out of elementary school) but is it something that all kids do just naturally?    
September 19, 2017 — wonderpens
Fall Inks

Fall Inks

Fall Fountain Pen Inks Fall is here! This is my favourite season, despite it being the harbinger of winter and snow and slush. It's cool and breezy, perfect for sitting outside with a tea or hot chocolate, it's clean school supplies and getting ready for the holidays ahead. Best of all, it's the season of my favourite ink colours - browns and golden oranges and rich reds and earthy greens. It's like the broken clock that's right twice a day: the inks that I tend to have in my pens year round are just right for this season of new beginnings and those glorious fall leaves. Sailor Kobe Arima Sailor Kobe Amber Arima Writing Sample An old favourite, Sailor Jentle Epinard - a desert island ink for me, notwithstanding the obvious impracticalities of being not waterproof. Sailor Jentle Epinard Another old favourite, J. Herbin Ambre de Birmanie J. Herbin Ambre de Birmanie Noodler's Antietam Noodler's Antietam Writing Sample Noodler's Army Green And an ink I've never tried before it but turns out is a real beauty of a shading ink: Platinum Carbon Sepia. While I don't know if I'll ever completely leave behind super saturated, sheening, wet inks, I think my favourites are always going to be the shading sort of ink - and a particular soft spot for the dustier, gentle ones. After having good flow, shading is probably my most important trait of an ink - there is nothing like a letter or journal entry written with a vintage sepia or a purplish grey. Platinum Sepia Carbon Ink Platinum Carbon Sepia All of these inks are in our tester ECOs in the shop. It's nice to have them out again since it's been a while since we've had them out, which is entirely my fault, and actually a bit unbelievable since someone else had cleaned out the pens and had them waiting for me weeks ago.

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In other news, in this beautiful fall weather, Caleb started preschool last week, along with the throngs of other boys and girls returning to classrooms, and he seems to have adjusted just fine. We've delayed his birthday celebration to give him some time to settle into his new routine, but he doesn't seem to have noticed. I was worried he'd be crying and feeling abandoned with all of these new and enthusiastic strangers (he's not really a kid who embraces enthusiasm from strangers), and it turns out he was pretty okay. Now it's turned into one of those weird things where I see other kids crying when I drop him off, and I ask myself if Caleb is doing okay because he's not crying like those other kids. A large part of parenting seems to be looking at what other kids and parents are doing and wondering if I'm supposed to be doing that too. I've also adjusted just fine, although Super is now enjoying a tremendous amount of redirected affection and love. I have to admit at first I was a bit lost without the padding of feet and yelling and accidental spills around me, but I've come to embrace these hours of freedom I have - although in these first weeks it seems mostly to be have been taken up by catching up on errands and emails, what seems like more than a few appointments and cleaning the apartment. Jon and I are left to wonder about and over-analyze the slightly bizarre ramblings he brings home to us: he talks about monkeys and Santa Claus, eating bread and water for lunch, the rituals of using a communal bathroom. I admit to being guilty of bringing him to the park after preschool and holding some slightly intense interrogations under the guise of casually sitting on a bouncy turtle. He's the only Asian kid in his class, and I'm not sure if that means anything - I mean, at what age do you teach him that some parts of him that are different are because he's Asian and we should be proud of that, and that other parts are different because his mama is just a little weird? Jon says I need to tone down the weird so Caleb can fit in a bit better. I hope the other kids are kind. In any case, I now officially have a preschooler. Time marches on.  
September 12, 2017 — wonderpens
Hobonichi - Techo, Cousin and Weeks! Pre-Order Available

Hobonichi - Techo, Cousin and Weeks! Pre-Order Available

It's that time of year again - as we roll into fall, we start to look into ordering and getting prepared for the new year, including the Hobonichi. We're extra thrilled because this is the first year Hobonichi is opening up international retailers to carry the A5 Cousin and the Weeks, along with the A6 Techo! The Hobonichi Techo Planner has usually been available to us in the A6 size, with English notations, which has developed its own cult following because of its super quality, ultra thin, fountain pen friendly Tomoe River paper inside. It has a page a day format, which can be used for planning, to-do lists, bullet journaling, art journaling or anything else you can dream up. In case you're curious, I wrote an update last year on using my Hobonichi for gratitude journaling (there's also a picture of Chicken as a kitten, and I can hardly believe he used to be so small. In hindsight, his cattiness was abundantly clear even as a young cat, but I remember thinking at the time that he was adorable and was going to make a wonderful shop cat. Hah!) Along with the A6 Techo Planner, we're also going to have the A5 Cousin (in the middle) and the Weeks (on the right). We've had a lot of questions about when and if we're going to carry the Cousin, and the answer has always been we'd love to! And now we can. Hobonichi Techo Cousin Weeks Canada We're anticipating our first shipment to arrive early October, and we'll be continuing to order and carry them until the new year. There are a lot of options this year, with the different sizes, and also various covers, including some collaborations with artist. Because of all the options, we're going to open it up to a pre-order before we get them in - as always, if you pre-order, we're going to ship out your entire order, including if you've ordered other things, once your Hobonichi comes in. Pre-ordering will help us ensure that we order sufficient quantity and we don't sell out of the cover or size that you'd like, but we are going to be ordering stock to carry in the shop. Every year we sell out of the Hobonichi's, and we get people asking even into the summer if we have any 2017s left. As always, once the "Pre-Order" designation is removed, it means we have it in stock, and it will ship out immediately. While you shouldn't rush to place an order if you're still thinking about what you're going to be organizing with next year, if you already know, this will help make sure we have it for you. All of the options are available on our website as a pre-order, but I thought I would list them here so you can see everything at once. You can see everything we'll have available from Hobonichi here on our website. Hobonichi Techo Planner A6 The Hobonichi Techo A6 will be available on its own, as a softcover notebook. The covers will also be available separately on their own. The Techo A6 is in English. Hobonichi Techo Covers Canada Hobonichi Techo Covers Canada Hobonichi Techo Covers Canada Hobonichi Techo Covers Canada Hobonichi Techo Cousin A5 The A5 Cousin is only available to us together with the cover. We cannot order them separately, unlike with the Techo, and unfortunately we will not be able to sell them separately. As this is the first year the A5 Cousin is available, perhaps things will change in the future. When you pre-order or buy the A5 Cousin, it will include the cover you've selected. The A5 Cousin is in Japanese only. Hobonichi Cousin Cover Canada Hobonichi Techo Weeks This is a longer, slim planner, similar to the Traveler's Notebook Regular Size. It's a hardcover planner, rather than with a stiff paper cover that you would insert into another cover, so it's being sold on its own. Hobonichi Weeks Toronto Canada Hobonichi Weeks Toronto Canada Hobonichi Weeks Toronto Canada For any of these dated items, unfortunately we will not be accepting returns. Please keep this in mind when you're making any decisions for your analogue system for next year. If you think you may be uncertain, please know that we will be ordering based on pre-orders as well as ordering for our regular shop inventory, so you will have plenty of time to make a decision. We would welcome you to come in the shop and see the covers when they arrive in the fall, especially if you are uncertain. You all know I love this time of year - I think it might be all the extra oxygen from breathing in so deeply all the time - and all the fresh new planners and empty pages are one of the delights of the season. I can't wait to see how some of you are using your Hobonichi's for planning, art journaling, writing quotations or whatever other creative outlets you might have.  
September 05, 2017 — wonderpens
J. Herbin 1798 Amethyste de l'Oural

J. Herbin 1798 Amethyste de l'Oural

 J. Herbin 1798 Amethyste de l'Oural It's been a busy week, and what should arrive just in time for the weekend! The new Jacques Herbin 1798 Amethyste de l'Oural - the newest ink from J. Herbin, a rich, dark purple with silver shimmer. It's similar to the 1670 inks (Emeraude de Chivor, Stormy Grey), but a new line. The US got an early sneak peek of it, and while we placed our order for this ink months ago without having seen it, it's sometimes nice to not really know when it's going to show up and then be delighted by our delivery guys. J. Herbin 1798 Amethyste de l'Oural J. Herbin 1798 Amethyste de l'Oural J. Herbin 1798 Amethyste de l'Oural Here's a writing sample with my Franklin-Christoph Model 20 Fine nib. By now I think most people know that to get the most out of the ink, you need pretty good paper (non-absorbent paper, like Rhodia, or Japanese paper like Tomoe River or Life), as well as a wet nib. The paper is a Rhodia Heritage notebook. Remember that sometimes broad nibs or italic nibs can still be fairly dry - they just have a wider line on the page. My Franklin-Christoph is one of my wetter fine nibs, although because it's fine you do have to look closely to see the shine - I guess like a lot of things in life. J. Herbin 1798 Amethyste de l'Oural Here's another writing sample with a wet broad nib. J. Herbin 1798 Amethyste de l'Oural J. Herbin 1798 Amethyste de l'Oural J. Herbin 1798 Amethyste de l'Oural J. Herbin 1798 Amethyste de l'Oural Like all inks with particles of shimmer, you should use some common sense - don't leave it in a pen for too long, extra cleaning doesn't hurt. I personally don't mind if there's still a little extra shimmer left in a pen after cleaning, mostly a bit left in the feed - over time it comes out with the next ink I put in the pen. There are a few new releases expected this fall that we're pretty excited about. As we roll into my favourite season, it's back to school and crisp air and all of the beautiful colours.

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In other news, the matches for the pen pal match up are a bit delayed. We're hoping to send them out tomorrow! Sorry about that - we've been a bit swamped around here lately, although it's mostly me who's dropped the ball on that. And also, we're hiring again! You can see more details here, but we're looking for someone available to work at least 20-28 hours a week. There's opportunity to move to full-time, especially for someone with experience or interest in working in social media, graphic design, special projects like events and website stuff.  
August 31, 2017 — wonderpens
A New Website + Extended Brick and Mortar Hours

A New Website + Extended Brick and Mortar Hours

It's been a bit quiet on the blog lately as we've been wrapping a few projects and making the most of these last few summer days. And while it's been quiet, some of you may have noticed we have a new website! You can see the new website here: www.wonderpens.ca It's been one of those massive projects we've been working on for a while - and by we, I mean mostly other people. When Jon first suggested a new website, with the dual purpose of updating our mobile website as well as giving us a fresh look, I thought he was nuts: what a huge and daunting task. You might be thinking the same if you're wanting to get your website newly optimized, look into services provided by companies such as hostiserver.com to host and maintain your new website for advanced site optimization and end-user experience improvements. This is a really important thing to consider if you are planning on setting up your own website, so make sure you don't overlook it. The majority of the actual migration and set up was handled by a company similar to this Web Design UK company, which is a long way from our first days when it was just me and Jon (I actually clicked some real buttons around in creating our original website! but most of those clicks have long been reversed since Jon has taken over). But, we were fortunate to have both extra hands here in the shop and some time this summer to work on getting this through. There was a lot of testing, seeing if we could add different options (like shopping by brand), updating photography and descriptions. We had some extra help (Bogdan!) with tweaking the website and making sure things looked just right - I basically just pointed and said "I don't really like this bar thing here" or "let's change this font" or "can we add this icon" and magic happened. Sometimes when I watch people skilled and expert in their field, like TV shows chefs or artists, and I feel (obviously incorrectly) like "they make it look so easy, I could do that" - but when stuff happens on the computer, I really have no idea how that happened. More than many other things, because I have no idea how to do any of this stuff, it really feels like there's some hocus pocus that just happens with people who are proficient with technology and coding, that a button can just appear in the middle of nowhere. Jon handled all the behind the scenes logistics and set up, a mountain I can only imagine, liaising with all the different companies that do different things with websites. The night before the launch, Jon's hair thinned just a little more, with all the last minute testing and back-and-forth with the tech folks. I took a few furtive glances at his screen and then backed away slowly. The new website is up, but of course we're still working through a few glitches here and there, and updating things as we go. If you notice anything amiss, please let us know! You're always welcome to call or email if you have any questions about products or placing an order. I read an article about how coding has become an essential skill for entering the workforce, and while I'm hoping to give Caleb a childhood with running around and trees and looking at motorcycles, I can see how it's become more and more important.

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And in other news, we're extending our shop hours! Another thing that has been a long time coming. We're going to be staying open until 7 pm on Thursday and Friday evenings, starting after Labour Day. I know we have a few customers whose work hours mean it can be hard to make it before we close. The twilight hour at dusk is one of my favourite times in the shop, and I'm excited to share it with you. After Labour Day, September 4th, our new hours will look like this: Sunday + Monday Closed Tuesday 11-6 Wednesday 11-6 Thursday 11-7 Friday 11-7 Saturday 11-6 If you ever have any questions about if we're open, please don't hesitate to call the shop 416 799 5935.
August 29, 2017 — wonderpens