01 April 2011

Free for All Friday No. 124

I've been waiting all year to do today's FFAF! Today is not only April Fool's Day, it's my birthday. As the inventor of the "Free for All Friday" column, it seems appropriate, no?

Some of you may be wondering how I came up with the idea for FFAF in the first place. It started at the very first Philofaxy meet up. The Original Philofaxer, Steve, Laurie and I were having lunch in London to discuss new ideas for the blog. But first we had to order some food.

As a young Yankee, Philofaxer was rather puzzled by the English pub menu. "Fish and Chips," he said. "What's that?"

Steve replied, "Fried Fish And Fries."

"That's it!" I cried! "That's the idea we've been looking for!"

Edit: April Fool! There was never any such meeting with all four of us. The origin of the idea for FFAF was much less exciting. I was inspired by the Wednesday "Blank Page" days on www.notebookism.com. I knew our readers would have plenty to talk about!


  1. Greetings from a lifelong New Yorker - sometime lurker, first time commenter. I saw the thread below on a prospective meetup and thought I should surface. I've been Filofax-enthused since graduation from university more than ten years ago; my first job was near now-defunct Lincoln Stationers near Lincoln Center - I remember a beautifully inviting Filofax display. From them, I own a personal and A5 zip Durham, still as good as new.

    The personal I use as a work calendar. I carry the A5 as a large creative journal warehousing papers from my other two organizers: a slimline Classic that I use as a daily journal and for story-drafting; and a mini Portland, which I use as a wallet and jotter. The Classic I purchased from Sam Flax in midtown, which may be the most comprehensive FF retailer I know of in NYC. The Mini I found at a wonderfully messy stationery store in the West Village, Stevdan Stationers - the kind of store that's an increasing rarity with the proliferation of bridezilla palaces like Papyrus and Kate's Paperie.

    I'm not big on calendaring; I use my organizers almost exclusively for journal or story-writing. The ability to separate pages, re-order and thread-in is invaluable to organizing my ideas. I write while holding down a full-time job, so my time is always limited, my thoughts rarely reaching continuity. I can't think of a better way to enjoin my left brain than to be holding something beautiful in my hands while I try. This extends to the paper - in the Personal I'm using the FF-brand cream cotton paper, which is a rare paper for me that handles my handwriting (which is very light) equally well with either a fountain pen or ballpoint. I also look forward to using Maruman-brand Japanese writing paper, punched for Personal and 6mm ruled, which I found in the basement of the Kinokuniya bookstore across from Bryant Park.

    I found this blog because I'm looking for a full-size Personal, and was curious which models truly lay flat - the bane of my Slimline Classic, after having taken it for granted with my old Durhams. Well, guess where Google led me. . . Pleasure to meet the community!

  2. Hi Nan, happy birthday!!

    I got into filofaxes VERY recently, last Sunday 20th March actually! I was just on the internet, procrastinating from my uni work, and I found a link saying are filofaxes better than iphones or something like that, and being an iphone lover constantly looking for the perfect calendar on it I wondered if filofax had made an iphone app, so I googled it. Well, they haven't, but I searched for 'filofax' to see what all the fuss was about. Some photos came up on the shopping bit, including a photo of the raspberry finsbury, and I fell instantly in love!! I went out first thing on the Monday to buy a personal :) I LOVE it!! I spent the next 3 days reading your blog and loads of others and already craving another one... I think I am already quite an expert on identifying filos just by their leather pattern or clasp :) And when I read your blog I feel like I am with friends- certainly, no-one I know understands my new love (obsession) with filos!
    I bought a mini finchley in caramel on ebay for making notes/shopping lists while on the move. But I put the wrong postcode and I think it might be lost in the post :(
    I bought a Domino A5 in red, I didn't think I would like it that much but I do :)
    And on Wednesday I bought a GORGEOUS pocket Malden in crimson from the filofax website, can't wait for it to arrive!!
    So this is how I use them:
    My finsbury personal is called Violet and she holds all of my personal stuff- my page a day appointment diary, where I write all my lectures, appointments, meetings, shifts, to dos, and currently uni work instructions; also notes, lists, trinkets etc. She goes with me everywhere :)
    Rufus, my domino A5, holds the time planners I made (similar to filofax's time management sheets) where I plan what work I need to do for the next day at uni, for essays and revision etc. He stays on my desk but occasionally he might find his way to the library :) I will also write dissertation things to do and progress in there.
    My Malden, when she comes, will hold my day planners, that is a smaller version of the time planners with instructions for uni work for when I go to the library. I haven't seen a Malden in the flesh yet, but I think I might love her so much I may downsize from my finsbury to my Malden for my everyday filo in the summer :)
    And my mini finchley, IF she arrives, will be my on-the-go notebook!

    Thanks for a great blog, I read it everyday and get great advice from you guys! (Although I may have to ignore some of your comments about multiple filos being OK, I already have 4 and I'm only a week and a half in!!)

  3. Happy birthday Nan!

    And welcome to our new friends John and Kateb

  4. oh man kinokuniya! how i wish they had an online shop. but yeah, it wouldn't be the same. plus minamoto kitchoan is right there... i love japanese packaging. their attention and care to everything (especially packaged sweets) make it difficult to not enjoy at least a second of beauty. plus for the food - so much more enjoyabler to eat

    i bought my friend a pocket crimson malden for her wedding present. she just got it yesterday and says she loves it and already made massive lists in it. she's in academia looking to get out plus getting married so perfect time for a new filofax. so kateb - can't wait to hear your experience with the crimson malden. it's a lot different than i expected (i have black personal and pocket). the leather seems to have a different treatment than the black. more dull than shiny. i bought all my maldens from the same place too, so,,,anyway, please flickr your filos!

  5. How do you create a diary/planner with the correct dates - do you have to go in and type in each date manually or is there a way to generate it automatically? Having been unable to find a layout on the quality paper I want, I'll thinking of generating my own page a day, or page on two days for my A5!

  6. @john "Stevdan Stationers - the kind of store that's an increasing rarity with the proliferation of bridezilla palaces like Papyrus and Kate's Paperie." ROFL because it is so true! i have to say Kate's used to have a nice filofax variety but since they have consolidated the one store that is left looks terrible. i am also a big fan of the maruman 6mm paper which i also picked up from kinokuniya! though, i have never thought of buying it for my filofax. i use it to take notes in lectures, labs, and meetings. do you use it in your A5 and personal or just the A5? i don't recall seeing it in a size that would fit in my personal maybe you could enlighten me. as for the who-lays-flat question...i want to say steve made a list and put it on the FAQ page but i am not sure. it could just be that we seem to discuss it all the time.

  7. Alison,
    The easiest solution I have found is to use a blank calendar in Outlook and print that off in which ever format you want.


    Or look at the DiY Dynamic Templates


  8. I was in NY last September and Bloomingdales had a Filofax stand with binders, papers etc, might be worth a look?

  9. Thanks for the warm welcome, all.

    Colie, the paper I have is Personal-compatible - in the store, it's in a display next to some straight-from-Japan non-filofax organizers. Their collection is geared more toward Pocket than Personal size, but the two packs of paper I got were Maruman 6mm ruled, and what I believe is Kokuyo in a faint 5mm quadrille. Both packs were 100+ sheets for under $8, so they are a good deal as well.

    Saffy, that's a good suggestion re: Bloomingdales - my office is within walking distance. If you're in NYC again, I recommend the Sam Flax store slight south (53rd and 3rd).

    Based on the suggestions of the group, I'm using my Durham Personal Zip as a work calendar and notebook - despite working in finance, I can't believe what even the partners here resign themselves to write on and with.

  10. i will upload my pictures to flikr soon, when i figure out how, lol!

  11. John,
    Not to be nosey but what do the partners write with and on? I as well as many others have always been interested in what people use in their daily lives to write with and write on. I have thousands of dolaars in pens, Mont Blanc, Lamy, Cross, but find myself writing with a BIC yellow fine I have shipped from Japan (they're no longer available in the US).
    Funny you mentioned it but I noticed the president of my company writes on scaps of paper and sticks them in his shirt pocket. And writes with a 39 cent company pen.
    It would be interesting to hear others that have stories.

  12. @Kateb, I like the way you have named your FFs. I have only named my car Henry, so far. My personal Domino is my "Domino" and I have a few on the way via my sister. I think I will find names for them too.
    @John, thanks for the address of Sam Flax, I will stop in, next time I visit my friend in NYC.
    @PA3789 I have so many pens at home and carry with me around a dozen every day. My favorite one at this time is the Pentel Energel 0.5 Needle Tip (black). It is smooth, does not bleed or smear. And as a pencil I am using the Pilot Rexgrip 0.5 lead. Which makes me think, why do I carry so many other pens around.

  13. Oh, another pocket Durham fan -- sweet! My first filo was an eBay purchase 2-3 years ago of a black zip pocket Durham, and it is still my constant companion, despite numerous other filo purchases since then. It's plain, it's black, but I love it. And yes, it does lie flat gorgeously. But so do my Belgravias and Finchleys!

  14. Oops, meant zip Durham fan, since you have a personal and A5, John (which I imagine are just as nice as the pocket).

  15. @john i am going to kinokuniya tomorrow afternoon for pen refills, onigiri, and who knows what else. i hope i find the paper you suggested, thanks!

  16. I know it's not Friday anymore, but... I received my Malden though the post today, her name is now Ruby, and I wanted page a day inserts but can't afford to keep buying new diaries for my new additions (and then throwing Jan Feb Mar away!) so I tore pages out of my moleskine page a day I stopped using a couple of weeks ago when I bought Violet, trimmed the pages and punched them, and now I have a diary in my pocket for free, and I haven't wasted my old diary! :D

  17. @kateb could you post a few pics to the flickr group? i would like to see that wonderful idea.


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