Pens In Real Life: Taking the Gross Out Of Grocery Shopping

Grocery shopping is a necessary evil. I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it, either. We go once a week, usually on Friday evening, to avoid the dawdling hordes that descend on Saturday. We like to get in and out as efficiently and quickly as possible. But then, who doesn’t?

DotDash grocery list

Oops…I wrote cherries twice. I must really want them.

I use a program called MacGourmet to digitally organize recipes on my desktop iMac. What’s really great is that I can export the recipes from MacGourmet to DropBox as .txt files so that they’re easily accessible via my phone. So even if we’re eating out, as we often are on a Friday evening, I can quickly pull together a grocery list for the coming week. As we brainstorm our needs and wants, I record the list on a Nock Co. DotDash 3×5 card, while also sketching out a tentative menu plan on the back of the same card. We do this every single week. And if we can’t, because of a Friday night event, we feel off-kilter. Creatures of habit, is what we are.

A packed Nock Co. Sinclair

The pen I use to write out the list, and to make my OCD checkboxes, varies from week to week, but it’s often selected from the stash of pens I have stored in my goes-everywhere-with-me Nock Co. Sinclair. I have a lot of stuff packed in there because I like to cover a lot of pen bases for whatever pen need or mood comes my way. Gel ink, liquid ink, fountain pen, and ballpoint options are all represented. It’s a clown car of a pen case. The Nock Co. DotDash card easily handles whatever type of ink I throw at it. Plus the grid is the perfect guide for drawing the checkboxes. I find them comforting. (Is that weird?)

Grocery list and Karas Kustom's INK rollerball

The pen I chose to write out my list this Friday was the INK rollerball by Karas Kustoms. (Huh. I’m not seeing the rollerball version on their site at the moment.) The Schmidt P8126 liquid ink refill is bold and smooth. The INK rollerball is a great writer that’s as fun to look at as it is to hold and use. All of this pen goodness distracts you from the fact that you’re preparing for a chore. The INK glides. Your mind goes to a happy place. I’m pretty sure endorphins are released. This is a good thing.

Uni-Style Fit Multipen

The list is made. We head to the store. Time to get down to business.

As we pick up each item on the list, I color in the little checkbox with red or orange ink. Yes, I could just check the box. I suppose. But the completely filled in boxes appeal to me, AND I get to use yet another pen. This week it was my Uni Style Fit 3 Color Multi Pen outfitted with brown, green, and red 0.38mm gel refills…a super sweet and customizable pen that I’ll write about in more detail before too long. (Thomas Hall got me hooked on these. Thomas, Master Enabler.) The Uni Style Fit refill colors are strong, and the ultra-fine point is wickedly smooth. The colored boxes make it abundantly clear what we’ve loaded into our cart and what we’re still trying to track down. Plus it’s fun to color, even if it is just a little box.

If we have to hit more than one store, as we almost always have to do, I jot the alternative store name next to the item. You know, for fun.

Grocery shopping gear

Despite this post’s name, I don’t really find grocery shopping all that gross. Unless it’s on the Saturday of a holiday weekend. Then, ick. But it is a chore that will always be there, week after week. The trick is to make it as palatable and efficient as possible. Using my pens and favorite 3×5 cards, I’ve nailed down a system that works for me, while injecting some fun into the process.

Grocery shopping tools

Now to find those elusive cherries.

 

 

 

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Everywhere Carry: Nock Co. Sinclair and Karas Kustoms Bolts

Vespa Scooters

On a recent episode of The Pen Addict podcast, Ana Reinert (of The Well-Appointed Desk) mentioned how she picked up a Karas Kustoms Bolt in olive green, because it matches her vintage Vespa scooter. That kind of logic works for me! I have a brown Vespa so of course I must have a Bolt in the new brown color. (It’s like these people hypnotize me.) Fred got into the act and prodded me to order the olive green version as well. Well, twist my arm.

I did as commanded and placed my order for an olive green standard Bolt and a brown Pilot G2 Bolt.

In the meantime, the guys at Nock Co. finally released their long-anticipated zippered Sinclair pen case. I saw Brad’s multi-colored prototype at the DC Pen Show, and knew it’d be a no-brainer purchase. Despite owning one or more of every Nock Co. pen case, this one looked extra-special. On launch day, I ordered the Forest/Sunshine and Camo/Raven versions since the Barn Red/Midnight colorway wasn’t available. I’m no camo fan, but I wanted two different colors, so camo it was.

In a cool bit of shipping coincidence, both orders arrived on the same day, and THAT’S when the lightbulb switched on! (I’m kind of spent lately so my brain is not firing on all cylinders.) The lovely muted olive green and brown Bolts are a perfect match for the camo colored Sinclair. Duh.

Sinclair and Bolts

I quickly loaded the Sinclair with the Bolts and have been carrying the case everywhere. Everywhere. Except to bed. And the shower. But other than that, it all goes where I go. So much for being ambivalent to camouflage.

Sinclair contents

The Sinclair is handier than handy. I’ve loaded it up with the pens, a Rotring pencil, Nock Co. DotDash 3×5 cards, a Field Notes notebook, the Write Notepads & Co. Linear Measuring Device, and my folded up Christmas shopping spreadsheet. When I’m out shopping, I store the gift cards I’ve purchased in the Sinclair to keep them secure. I can carry all of this in the case with room for more.

Sinclair zipper

This is the first zippered case by Nock Co. which is what makes it so handy. No worries about anything accidentally slipping out in your travels. The zipper is sturdy and substantial. It’s as top-notch as the workmanship on the case.

Karas Kustoms Bolts

I obviously love the case, but what about the pens?

The standard Bolt takes any Parker-style refill while the Pilot G2 version takes the, you guessed it, Pilot G2 refill. I’ve been interested in the Pilot G2 Bolt since it was released, but held off until now as I was concerned that, at 6.125″, it might be a little too long. (The regular Bolt measures a very comfortable 5.625″.) There definitely is a different feel between the two pens, but I’m very happy with both. The longer G2 Bolt is a bit more top-heavy because of the added length, but is not at all unwieldy, probably because aluminum is pretty lightweight. In a heavier material, the added length might become an issue.

Karas Kustoms Bolt

I love the design of the bolt mechanism on these Karas Kustoms pens because it’s flush with the pen body, rather than protruding like on most bolt-action pens. The mechanism works very smoothly so I’m able to deploy and retract the refill with one hand. It’s both cool and easy to use.

Karas Kustoms now ships their pens with refills so you’re able to put pen to paper immediately. This wasn’t always the case. The lack of a refill wasn’t an issue for someone like me who has a shoebox stuffed with all kinds of refills, but for most people it may have been a bit of a stumbling block. My standard Bolt arrived with a black Schmidt EasyFlow 9000 refill installed, while the Pilot G2 Bolt came equipped with a 0.5 mm Pilot G2 gel refill, also in black. I’m a fan of both refills so I’ve had no reason to swap them for anything else. But if you’re so inclined, the standard Bolt takes any Parker-style refill, while there are other options and tip sizes available for the G2 Bolt (Pilot Juice refills, etc.).

IMG_1010

I couldn’t be happier with this set-up. Both the Nock Co. Sinclair case and the  Karas Kustoms Bolts pens go with me everywhere. They’re not just my Everyday Carry, they’re my Everywhere Carry.

Use the code HAPPYHOLIDAYS to get 15% off of your Karas Kustoms order. (That’s what I did!)

I purchased everything shown and discussed in this review with my own funds. There are no affiliate links and I’ve received no compensation for this post. 

My Security Blanket: Traveling With Too Many Pens

I love the thought of going away. Seeing friends, having new experiences, taking in fresh scenery, enjoying a break from home and work routines. Finally a chance to exhale.

But travel itself, especially when flying, is fun and draining at the same time. The packing. The security rigamorole. Timing airplane bathroom breaks appropriately. Not losing any of your stuff. There’s always some point along the way where I kind of wish I was home. Just an inkling of homesickness creeps in along the way.

I miss my things–my husband (if he’s not with me, as on this current trip), our crazy pups, my own just-so pillows, a well-stocked refrigerator, ice on demand.

I swear, I have an easier time deciding what clothes to pack than picking out which pens to bring. I always miss the ones that aren’t with me. I stock my Nock Co. Brasstown with more pens than a sane person needs, then typically swap things in and out until zero hour. There’s so much mental chatter in my head about my pen selections that it makes me feel like I must be going off the deep end. But what a deep end it is!

Part of me wishes that I could embrace minimalism–pick ONE pen and use ONLY it for the entire trip. Maybe someday. Right now that thought gives me what is technically called the heebie jeebies.


So here I am in California, oh so far from home, with new and old pen favorites. For this trip (a conference), I brought along:


Pilot Metropolitan White Tiger fountain pen. Nice fine point for note taking. Replaceable should the unthinkable occur.


Karas Kustoms Two-Tone Retrakt outfitted with Pilot G2 0.5 mm black refill. Great pen in my favorite color.

Ti2 Techliner Red Alert and Orange Crush. The Red Alert is outfitted with a uni-ball Jetstream  0.7 mm black ballpoint refill while the Orange Crush holds a uni-ball Signo 207 0.7 mm gel refill…both excellent options.


Amy Grigg’s Apex Kickstarter pen with a Schneider Topball 850 rollerball refill. Great on the Levenger Circa Vivacious paper in my notebook. Smooth. Dark. Gorgeous wood.

 
Bigidesign’s Ti Post Raw Pen + Stylus
, also with the Schneider Topball 850 rollerball refill. Do I need to carry two pens with the same refill? Nope. I never said any of this was reasonable.

Retro 1951 Lift-Off with a Schimdt P8126 refill. It’s my newest Retro so why shouldn’t it travel with me to California?

I also have my Lamy Scribble tucked into the Hightower, should I need to do pencily things. I have not tired of this mechanical pencil. It’s a gem.

There’s no need to carry this many pens across the country. Technically I could survive with a few of the Bic Stic Queen Mary pens the hotel provides. But these pens and pencil (and pen case) make me feel secure. They’re unique, well-made, and reliable–comfortable to hold and top-notch performers. They remind me of the connections I have with the folks who make and sell them. We’ve exchanged everything from brief messages to emails to long letters. Pens aren’t just pens. They’re the people behind the pens.

And that feels like home.

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This post was composed and photographed entirely with my iPhone, so excuse the lack of links (too cumbersome) and any formatting and lighting oddities. Fun fact– the photos were taken on the desk President Eisenhower used while aboard the Queen Mary. I’m sharing his suite with a friend. Pretty cool.