What I’m Using This Week

For Journaling

My favorite pen and ink combination for journaling this week is the Diplomat Aero (Stripes Black) inked with J. Herbin Stormy Grey, a grey ink with heavy gold shimmer. The broad nib on the Aero lays down a juicy line that handles the ink’s fine gold flake without clogging. It’s a tough ink to photograph, but I think you can catch a glimpse of the brightness the shimmer adds to the dark grey ink. (This ink was in the Week #12 bundle and I’ve been enjoying it in this pen since I unwrapped it.) I’m finding this to be a particularly nice pen and ink combination to wake up to. (Yes, I do wake up with pens in my head!) The page twinkles with gold flecks for a subtle glow that brightens up even the darkest morning.

For List and Notes

Rotring 600 mechanical pencil, ACME Optikal, Hatch, and #2 ballpoint and rollerball pens

In an effort to lighten my daily carry, I’ve decided to pull one pen case at random from my collection of filled cases, then use the pens in that case for the week. A “luck of the draw” kind of thing. This strategy significantly reduces the number of pens I’m carrying at one time, while also re-introducing me to goods in my collection that I might have forgotten about. This week’s pull featured the now-discontinued Nock Co. Hightower loaded with four favorites from ACME Studio, and a Rotring pencil—a great selection for the week.

The Optikal and Hatch pens both hold Pilot G2 0.5 mm refills, while the #2 rollerball refill is an ACME-branded Schmidt P8126. I guess I was mostly in a gel pen mood as the ballpoint is the only one that didn’t get as much much play, even though I’m a big fan of its EasyFlow 9000 refill. I often switched pens throughout the day just to give them all some use. I have 2B leads loaded in the 0.7 mm Rotring for a dark and smooth pencil experience.

And look what I found tucked inside the limited edition Kickstarter Hightower! An unused Nock Co. top-staple notebook and some of their excellent index cards! A sweet find!!

For Inspiration

I saw the book Good Morning, Friends: Gentle Suggestions For the Start of Your Day (by Jessica Kantrowitz) mentioned in someone’s Twitter feed and after a bit of pondering (do I need another book?), bought the Kindle version (Yes I DO need another book). I love, love, love the daily “scavenger hunt” that’s right in the beginning of the book. Jessica suggests that you look for these things amidst the busyness of your days:

  • A moment of peace
  • A moment of joy
  • A moment of connection
  • A regrouping after a (small or large) crisis
  • A lovely, cool glass of water
  • Birdsong

There have been a few trials in the week (in the month, in the year), as there always will be, and this new daily exercise of opening up my radar to look for these six simple but special things has been a calming and inspiring practice—the perfect reset for my mood in the midst of life’s snarls. Maybe you need a mental reset, too?

On balance, this was a good week thanks to little discoveries, time with friends, and the simple joy of putting pen to paper.

It’s OK if it were a tie or joke,
try saying, “I had something good today, too.”
And then, close your eyes.
Something as good as a tiny stone,
is rolling here and there,
more often than you think.

(A bit of wisdom, from the packaging of my hardcover Hobonichi Techo)

Diplomat’s Excellent Excellence


Diplomat is a company that’s often overlooked in pen circles, and I think that’s too bad. I own four of their fountain pens—the economical Softtouch Magnum, a mid-range Optimist Loop, the visually distinctive Aero, and this classic looking Excellence. While four pens is not a large sample size, each nib writes so smoothly that I’m convinced that Diplomat values nib performance at least as much as good design and build quality, no matter the price. The same cannot be said of every pen company.


My latest acquisition—this Excellence Rhombus fountain pen—has been getting constant use. With a medium steel nib, this pen wrote right out of the box and is incredibly smooth with just a hint of spring. Pure joy.


The excellent Excellence has good looks, a nice weight, and a writing performance that continues to make me smile.

You can read my full review HERE.

The Diplomat Excellence Rhombus fountain pen discussed here was purchased from The Pen Company, at a discount, to facilitate this review. Views expressed here reflect my personal opinion and experiences with the pen.

For The Pen Company: Diplomat Life Ballpoint Pen

Busy days and nights lately. Here’s a little something to tide you over.


I wrote a review of the Diplomat Life Ballpoint for my friends at The Pen Company.


I’ve been a fan of Diplomat since picking up a Diplomat Optimist Loop fountain pen at the DC Pen Show in August.


This is a great looking and feeling ballpoint that I’ve been using daily since receiving it.

 There’s a lot to like about it and one thing that needed a little tweaking.

Check out the pen, and my review, HERE.


(The pen was provided to me for review purposes. I was not otherwise compensated and there are no affiliate links in this post.)

An Introvert Goes to the Pen Show

Ink Testing table
[Akkerman inks at the ink testing table]

It’s raining, and I’m wearing fleece in August, so it must be my vacation week. Ah, no worries— it’s still nice to have a break from work, to sleep a little later, and to take a few field trips. Today we’re heading to the closest Cheesecake Factory (which is about an hour away) because we have a gift card burning a hole in our pockets. Yum.

Over the weekend we took a BIG field trip to the DC Supershow—reportedly the biggest pen show in the world. I’ve only ever been to this show— last year was my first time—so I don’t have anything to compare it to. Even though I’m definitely an introvert, and sometimes get overwhelmed by people, I had a BLAST! This is my element. THESE are my people. If I could live at a pen show forever, I would.

The show is buzzing!
[The show is buzzing!]

I was feeling a little anxious about just going for Sunday but we did so because we wanted to minimize the time our four dogs were boarded, with Boo being fragile and Flapjack being a young pup. My brain kept screaming “ALL THE GOOD PENS WILL BE GONE!!” but of course that was not the case.

I won’t go into details in this post (the husband and the cheesecake are calling me!), but I’m happy to report that this introvert loved every moment of the day, loved seeing old friends and making new ones, loved letting the pens that were meant for me find me. I haven’t had a day this fun in a long time.

My husband isn’t into pens as a user, but he’s a talker and has enough interest that he’s actually a great pen show ally. A couple of the pens I purchased were the direct result of Fred’s chats with the sellers. Thanks to Fred, we uncovered a very cool connection with the folks who are the US distributors for Diplomat Pens, had a long and lovely talk with Syd Saperstein of Wahl-Eversharp, and had a great visit with Chris and Marc of Write Notepads & Co. And because we were missing our pups, we bonded immediately with Marc’s dog, Nico, who happily napped on their display table. She is a DREAM dog.

Nico, The Write Notepad Co. ambassador
[Nico, the Write Notepad & Co. Ambassador]

On Monday, we spent time in Baltimore prior to the Orioles-Yankee game, and took up Chris and Marc on their invitation to see where and how Write Notepads are born. They were wonderful hosts, as was Nico, and that visit was a definite high point of our trip.

This post is short, and slim on details, cuz I gotta run. I’ll write all about our trip and my pens in upcoming posts, but I wanted to let you know that this introvert had the best time ever! The pens are great, but the people made the show, and our trip, extraordinary.

It can rain on my vacation. I don’t even care.