Goodbye Serious: Uni-ball Signo DX Hello Kitty Gel Pens

Hello Kitty Uniball Signo DXs

Life has been a little too serious for a little too long. Though I try my best to have some fun and to look for the bright spots in every day (and really, there are A LOT), sometimes I let myself get sucked into a negative mood vortex. When that happens, it can be hard to claw my way out. Episodes of “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee” help. So do pens. Especially Hello Kitty pens.

Uni-ball Signo DXs

These inexpensive ($3.00 a pop) Uni-ball Signo DX Hello Kitty gel pens have a lot going for them, which makes them the perfect antidote for a case of the serious.

Uni-ball Signo DX Hello Kitty gel pens

Considerably less finicky than the Pilot Hi-Tec-C, the cone-shaped 0.38 mm tip delivers a consistently crisp, precise, and reliable line. I’ve never had to do a bunch of scribbling to get the ink flowing as I so often have to do with the needle-tip Hi-Tec-Cs. Even if I haven’t used a particular Uni-Ball Signo DX for awhile, there’s never an issue getting it to lay down ink on paper. Uncap it. Use it. Simple.

Uni-ball Signo DX Hello Kitty gel pens

The gel ink never bleeds or feathers, and feels impressively smooth, even in this micro tip size. I think it’s fantastic. Available in seven colors (I’m not seeing black listed anymore…hmmm), and only in the 0.38 mm tip size, these are great pens to use in your planner or pocket notebook. I carry mine tucked into a Nock Co. Fodderstack and routinely jot down notes and grocery lists on my DotDash 3×5 Notecards. They’re also refillable, with Uni-ball UMR-1 refills, so there’s no need to throw away the pen body when the ink runs out.

Hello Kitty gel pens

The textured grip makes for a comfortable and slip-free writing experience. The cap snaps onto both ends of the pen with a reassuring CLICK. Neither your fingers, nor the cap, are going anywhere.

PLUS- Hello Kitty graphics! I assure you, I’m no die-hard Hello Kitty fan, and don’t own any other Hello Kitty products, but these pens are seriously cute. Adorned with Hello Kitty bows in the same color as the ink, and tiny kitty faces, these particular Uni-ball Signo DXs are the ones I reach for most often. They’re kind of adorable, right?

Uniball Signo DX Hello Kitty gel pens

I own a lot of pens—a lot of pricier and more complicated pens. But sometimes you just want…or need…a simple, reliable, and CUTE pen. Something you can quickly uncap and use. Something that will always write, and do so smoothly and with precision. Something that makes you smile.

Uni-ball Signo DX Hello Kitty gel pens

Hello Kitty. Goodbye serious.

All pens and products mentioned here were purchased with my own funds, and there are no affiliate links in this review. 

A Couple of Nock Co. Goodies: The DotDash Pocket Notebook and Notecards

Reviewing the Nock Co. goods

Who doesn’t love comfort food— those homey, no-frills dishes that can lift you up after a crummy day. Fork-tender pot roast, piping hot macaroni and cheese, a steaming bowl of chili— these dishes conjure up grandma’s kitchen, where everything was made with care, from the best ingredients.

Nock Co. goods

Seems to me, my Nock Co. favorites are the pen world’s equivalent of comfort food. Made by people who care, Nock Co. designs and products are classic— made to stand the test of time. Without a hint of pretentiousness, these are goods that can handle what life throws at you, and bring a little joy to even your most frustrating day.

Nock Co. Pocket Notebook

Blog post outline

The DotDash Pocket Notebook is top-stapled, measures 3.5″ x 5.5″, and can be used in portrait or landscape mode. I’ve recently started using mine to sketch out quick blog post outlines. Since it’s hard to know when an idea may strike, I carry mine tucked inside a Nock Co. Hightower case, along with a healthy selection of pens. I’m fully prepared for when the blog muse strikes.

Ink tests in the Nock Co. Pocket Notebook

A bit of bleed-through

The Nock Co. Pocket Notebook contains forty-eight 50 lb. pages, printed front and back with a Cool Gray DotDash pattern that just so happens to be my preferred format. The DotDash “grid” is dark enough to provide guidance for your writing, without being too dark and getting in the way. Gel inks fare very well on the page, while fountain pen inks show a bit of feathering, and do result in a little bit of bleed-through. I prefer using my Retro 51s, Karas Kustoms pens, and Ti2 Techliner in this notebook as these inks remain sharp and dry quickly.

Inside the front cover

Fill out the information inside the front cover of your notebook just in case you misplace it. Not that I’d do such a thing (says the woman who keeps LEAVING HER PURSE at Dunkin Donuts—GAH!).

Fodderstack with DotDash Notecards

The Nock Co. DotDash Notecards have been a staple in my analog tools daily carry since their release. Tucked inside a Fodderstack, along with the special-edition Nock Co./Karas Kustoms Render K, this is a combination that goes with me EVERYWHERE. I jot down directions, make weekly grocery lists, plan menus, and capture to-do list items. I’m never without my Nock Co. Fodderstack, Render K, and notecards.

DotDash Notecards

Made from 80 lb. smooth cover stock, the notecards handle even fountain pen ink quite well, though, again, I’m generally using some sort of 0.5 mm gel pen refill. The DotDash pattern on the notecards comes in Orange or Dusty Blue— colors that don’t look too busy or bright.

Ink samples on Nock Co. DotDash Notecards

Nock Co. cases, Pocket Notebooks, and Notecards are well-made goods that come without fuss or hassle. They work. They last. They’re 100% reliable.

Nock Co. Fodderstack and Hightower

And like grandma’s warm apple pie, they keep you coming back for more.

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The Nock Co. Pocket Notebooks were sent to me for review purposes. All other products were purchased by me, either during the Nock Co. Kickstarter campaign, or from the Nock Co. online store. There are no affiliate links in this post, and I was not monetarily compensated for this review.

2014 Wrap-Up: The Feelings

Simple tree
Simple tree

I had planned to get a post up last week, but then I caught a cold (unexpected) and Christmas arrived (expected). One thing was fun, the other not so much. Slowly coming out of my sinus miseries and low-key Christmas celebrations to think about getting things back to normal. Well, normalish.

Baking cookies
Baking molasses cookies. Or as I call them, mole asses cookies.

I’m off from work for most of the week— just have to pop in on Friday for a little while— so every day feels like Saturday lately. Which is what I imagine heaven feels like.

Christmas colored Retro 51s
My festive Retro 51s

A couple of feelings routinely kick in this time of year, as one year ends and the other begins. The first is gratitude. Thanks for all of the good stuff and good people that I’ve encountered in the last year, much of it related to pens (and paper and ink and pencils) and the pen/pencil communities. These are the places where I feel most comfortable, where my introverted tendencies vanish, where I have a blast.

The Retrakt
Karas Kustoms Retrakt

Though not a complete list by any means, these are just some of the people and places who made 2014 a memorable year:

Podcasts/Videocasts
The Pen Addict with Brad and Myke (responsible for oh so many pen purchases and for an always entertaining commute)
The Erasable Podcast with Andy, Johnny, and Tim (Who would’ve thought I’d listen to a show about pencils? I do, and I love it.)
Anderson Pens (Oh, that chat! It’s like meeting with friends every time I tune in.)
SBREBrown & Gourmet Pens & the “I won’t be ignored” kitty (Great information with great humor. You guys rock.)

Pen, pencil, ink, notebook, and storage vendors
Anderson Pens
Dudek Modern Goods
Edison Pen Co.
Field Notes
Fontoplumo
The Goulet Pen Co.
JetPens
Karas Kustoms
Levenger
Nock Co.
Pen Chalet
The Pen Company
Retro 1951
Write Notepads & Co.

Thanks to some for supplying review items, to others for great customer service, and to all for great products and that extra-special personal touch.

My nib guy
Dan Smith @fpgeeks

Thanks for making less than stellar pens remarkable, quickly and affordably. Great work!

Penpals
Tracy Lee
Michelle

Thank you for understanding when I TAKE SO LONG TO REPLY. Your letters and cool envelopes are a source of delight in my mailbox. So glad we’re getting to know each other better while using our pens and inks.

Bloggers, Tweeters, Facebookers
I won’t name names because I’ll leave someone out then feel bad, but you all entertain and educate me, amuse and enlighten. This is the BEST community.

Best hotel
The Sheraton at Tysons Corner for returning my “left behind” Akkerman ink after the DC Pen Show. Amazing customer service. So grateful.

Pencils at the ready
Pencil line-up

The other feeling that kicks in this time of year is “fresh start.” Old year out, new year in. Time to purge, reorganize, and start with a blank(ish) slate. Fred and I regularly purge and straighten out our pantry during our break between Christmas and New Year’s. Annual ritual. Afterwards, we vow to use what we have on hand before adding more stuff to the cupboards.

Conklin Stylograph
Conklin Stylograph (to be reviewed)

In that same vein, I plan to make 2015 a year where I buckle down and USE my pens, pencils, papers, and inks— switching my focus from acquisition to using. When you have a Staples Printer Paper box full of empty notebooks, it might be time to stop buying notebooks and start writing in them. Like every day. Don’t get me wrong, I use my stuff but I need to REALLY use my stuff. There’s plenty here to be written in and written with, plenty to be reviewed, plenty to have fun with. Plenty.

Machined goodness
Machined favorites

So I’m closing out 2014 and starting 2015 feeling grateful and blessed. And you— all of you— are the reason.

Peace and good health to you all.

Write Notepads & Co.
Write Notepads & Co. loot

An Indispensable Trio: The Nock Co. Fodderstack, DotDash Cards, and Exclusive Karas Kustoms Render K

I picked up this trio of Nock Co. offerings a number of weeks ago, and though I knew they’d be something I’d enjoy, I had no idea how much I come to RELY on them. All day, every day. On vacation, at a conference, at work, in the car, and just knocking (haha…pun alert) around the house, I’m constantly grabbing for this ultra-portable set of tools.

Fodderstack, Render K, and DotDash cards

The Fodderstack is constructed of 1000D Nylon with DWR coating. That is, it’s tough. I chose the Steel color because it looks good with just about any pen. The interior is lined with nylon pack cloth— Blue Jay, in my case. I like the pop of bright blue peeking out of the top of the case, AND it looks great with my Nock Co. x Karas Kustoms Exclusive Render K with its gorgeous blue cap.

DotDash cards, Render K, aand Fodderstack

The Fodderstack measures 5.125″ x 3.25″ which means that it’s designed to hold a stack of Nock Co’s DotDash 3×5 cards. A separate, slim outer pocket holds a pen or two, while the inner pocket holds about 20 of the sturdy, gridded note cards. I use them for EVERYTHING— grocery lists, to-do lists, my DC Pen Show “quest” list, phone numbers, directions, airline flight and gate numbers, blog post outlines, meeting notes, you name it. If you’re walking around and doing things, you need these cards.

DotDash cards

Made of 80 lb. cover stock, and featuring an orange DotDash pattern, the 4.25mm grid is absolutely perfect for documenting all the stuff that flies at me during my day. They’re printed on both sides so I can fit A LOT of information on one card, thanks to my fairly precise handwriting. While I’m usually using my Nock Co. Render K with a 0.5 mm G2 refill, the cards are fountain pen friendly, especially with extra-fine and fine nibs. There’s a bit of feathering with medium and broad nibs, but even that is better than anything I’ve seen when using fountain pens on index cards. Impressive.

DotDash cards

The pen that knocks this trio out of the park is the Nock Co. x Karas Kustoms G2 model Render K. Even though I already have a fistful of Render Ks— plain aluminum, orange, Delrin, and raw— I couldn’t pass up the chance to own one of these exclusive (but not limited) joint Nock Co./Karas Kustoms offerings. You’ll only find this color combination— aluminum body, blue cap, red tip— through Nock Co. The rich colors really pop in contrast to the shiny aluminum body.

Nock Co. X Karas Kustoms Render K

Render K clip

The Render K is made of 6061-T6 aluminum (good stuff), and weighs 1.1 ounces. The screw cap, which features a sturdy clip and accent knurling (mmmmmm…knurling), doesn’t post. Measuring 5.125″ capped and 4.92″ uncapped, the pen feels great in hand. The pen DOES NOT ship with a refill so you’ll have to provide your own. I’ve installed a Pilot G2 0.5 mm black refill, though others swear by the 0.38 mm tip size.

Knurling

The whole Fodderstack combo— case, cards, and pen— is just slightly larger then my iPhone 5 so it’s an easy item to carry in hand, or in my purse or messenger bag, which is why it is ALWAYS with me. On the rare instance that I’ve left it behind, I feel undressed, like when I forget my earrings. Ugh. The Fodderstack has become as important to me as my phone. It’s well-designed, well-made, and fun to use, just like my phone.

Fodderstack, Render K, and DotDash cards

Nock Co.’s Fodderstack, DotDash cards, and exclusive Karas Kustoms Render K have become must-have tools for navigating my day. At work and at home, in the car and in the office, they’re perfect for capturing notes and lists, numbers and names, directions, and requests. Or doodling. Even doodling is fun.

DotDash cards and Render K

How did I live without my Nock Co. Fodderstack, DotDash cards, and Nock Co. x Karas Kustoms Render K?! Darned if I know.

Nock Co. Trio of Tools

You can check out EVERYTHING Nock Co. has to offer HERE. Color options for the various cases can be found HERE.

[This post was not sponsored and doesn’t contain any affiliate links. All items were purchased by yours truly. I simply love this stuff.]

 

Traveling With Pens: A Case Study (or a study of a basket case?!)

I’m attending a conference in Indianapolis, IN this week. But before I traveled here, I spent a god awful amount of time mulling over which pens to bring with me. Clothes? Easy. Pens? Not so much.

Right up until the last minute I was swapping pens in and out of my Nock Co. Brasstown case. The case, at least, was pretty much a given. Even though I schlep three or four Nock Co. Pen cases to and from work every day, I knew I only wanted to travel with one, and the Brasstown quickly made the cut. With its roll-up, multiple pen holding “tongue” and space to carry some ink cartridges and a small ruler, the case was an easy pick.

When it was time to leave for the airport, I had to STOP with the pen swaps and go with what was in the case. Here’s the final line-up:

Fountain pens
Lamy AL Star Blue-Green (fine nib) with Lamy black cartridges
Lamy Vista (extra-fine nib) with Lamy black cartridges
Pilot Knight (medium nib) with Namiki Blue/Black cartridges

Rollerball pen
Retro 51 Betsy Tornado Rollerball

Gel pen
Nock Co./Karas Kustoms exclusive Render K with 0.5 mm black G2 refill

Ballpoint pens
Fisher Space pen (matte black bullet model)
TactileTurn Shaker with Schmidt EasyFlow 9000 black refill

20140729-223046.jpg

I’m a couple of days into the conference now and have a few thoughts about my choices. The Lamy Vista is great. The EF nib is perfect in my Clairefontaine notebook and I especially like being able to monitor the ink level. The fine nib on the Lamy AL Star is a little broad, while the medium nib on the Pilot Knight is wonderfully smooth and lays down a precise fine line as it’s a Japanese medium.

The Fisher Space pen has been particularly handy for filling out entry forms at today’s trade show. It’s easy to carry and completely reliable. Maybe not my favorite refill of all time, but great when you just need a pen to do its job whenever and wherever.

I haven’t used Betsy or the Shaker as yet, though both are favorites when I’m home. I think I’ll work them into tomorrow’s sessions. Could it be I have pen A.D.D.? Is that a thing?

20140729-224319.jpg

A couple of other Nock Co. products have really performed well on this trip- the Fodderstack loaded with the DotDash 3×5 cards paired with Nock Co. x Karas Kustoms Exclusive G2 Render K. The pen looks and writes great. I love the playful trio of colors, and loaded with a 0.5 mm G2 refill, it’s been perfect for taking meeting notes AND for keeping track of action items that are popping up at work and at home. By jotting down tasks on the DotDash cards, I’m able to concentrate on what I should be concentrating on- the conference.

Someone on Twitter suggested that I should travel with only one pen as a challenge, and I considered that for a little bit. Obviously, I didn’t go that route since I have a stupid number of pens with me. But really, I’m having fun swapping pens from day to day…or even within the same day.

And, I must admit, pens are something of a security blanket for me. I feel better when they’re with me.

20140729-230713.jpg

There…I admitted it.

Written and photographed on my iPad and iPhone with poor hotel lighting. But written nonetheless!

Bright: Sassafras Pen Case by Nock Co.

The future looks very bright for the pen case dream team of Brad Dowdy and Jeffey Bruckwicki. Brad, our beloved pen addict, and Jeffrey, a master tailor, partnered to form Nock Co., and just yesterday launched their line of made in the USA, great-looking and durable pen cases on Kickstarter. Within ONE HOUR, they’d reached their $5000 goal and have been steadily adding backers ever since. They’re excited! We’re excited! Heck, even my pens are excited!

Nock Co. Sassafras
Nock Co. Sassafras pen case

Brad sent along a prototype of their five-pen bi-fold case, the Sassafras, for me to use and review. All of their cases are made in the USA and feature 1000 denier Cordura exteriors and nylon pack cloth interiors which means that they’re tough, durable, and resistant to tears and scuffs. Along with all of that toughness, my case pops with the Mandarin/Mango color scheme. (Like Brad, I have a thing for orange, and this case scratches that orange itch perfectly.) It’s bright. You know, like the future of Nock Co. Yes, THAT bright.

Sassafras by Nook Co.
The mango interior

The Sassafras model holds at least five pens, is lightly padded, and features inner flaps that cover the pen clips. Because of the flaps, when the case is folded, there’s no pen-to-pen contact, and no danger of a scratch or a nick or a ding. These guys know what they like and they know what they’re doing.

Sassafras

I’ve been carrying six pens in this case (I have a couple of Render K’s in one of the wide pockets), but if you’re strictly a “one pen per pocket” person, that’ll work, too. As someone who doesn’t like their pens knocking into each other (especially some of my easily scratched acrylic pens), I especially appreciate the individually stitched pockets. It’s like each pen has its own little sleeping bag.

Sassafras

And though this case isn’t specifically designed to hold a notebook, as some of their other offerings are, I’ve been tucking my doane paper notebook (also in a lovely orange color) inside for easy carrying. Works great.

Sassafras with doane paper notebook

Along with the Sassafras, Nock Co. is offering five additional models, one of which is sure to meet your pen and/or notebook carrying needs. Let’s take a look at the others (the following photos are courtesy of Nock Co.).

There’s the Chimneytop (small and medium), which is a zippered pen pouch.
Chimneytop

The Maryapple, a two memo bi-fold:
Maryapple

The Lookout, a three pen holster:
Lookout

The Hightower, a three + one bi-fold case:
Hightower

And the Brasstown, a zippered roll case (very cool design!):
Brasstown

When the project launched, I quickly browsed their page and got a little panicky wondering which reward to choose, then noticed the ALL THE CASES option and had to go for it. This reward level gets you all seven cases, in your choice of the three color schemes, for a pledge of $75. That’s less than $11 per case— certainly a very reasonable price to pay for protecting my beloved pens.

When I think of the word “bright,” I usually think of bright colors, like my mandarin Sassafras case. But “bright” can also mean “intelligent and clever,” and “auspicious and promising,” and even “radiant with happiness.” Nock Co. is a bright company, and I mean that in every sense of the word.

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If you’d like to learn more about this project on Kickstarter, check it out HERE.

You can also follow Nock Co. at http://nockco.com/, as well as on Twitter (https://twitter.com/NockCo) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/NockCo).

P1020802
Protecting my Delrin Render K