One Strategy to Improve Your Handwriting | From the Pen Cup

One Strategy to Improve Your Handwriting | From the Pen Cup.

So I picked up an inexpensive Sheaffer calligraphy set and a calligraphy workbook and spent hours hunched over practice paper. HOURS. I never DID become a very accomplished calligrapher—school and life eventually got in the way— but after all those hours of practice, a funny thing happened. My random, immature, tilt-a-whirl handwriting became more uniform, tidier, and infinitely more mature. It wasn’t Victoria’s, but it was a much-improved version of my own. Finally, I had handwriting that had a bit of style.

This is actually an interesting strategy that might work for many others out there.

Building A Little Free Library

What is a Little Free Library? It’s a “take a book, return a book” gathering place where neighbors share their favorite literature and stories. In its most basic form, a Little Free Library is a box full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book (or two) and bring back another book to share. You can, too!Little Free Library

My wife is a voracious reader. She reads two to three books a week. She loves them. She’ll even power through a not-so-good one just to say she read it.

We are fortunate enough to live in a community where the Little Free Library has kind of taken off. It seems I see one every two to three blocks around here. Not a week goes by that my wife (usually with our daughter in tow) doesn’t stop by one of the Little Free Libraries around our neighborhood to trade some books. My wife even keeps a bag of no-longer-needed books in her car for the odd random stop that might happen as she is driving around.

So, for a while now I have been planning on building one as a present for her. As our 8 year wedding anniversary was approaching I knew it would be the perfect gift. Also, I set a personal goal of giving more handmade presents this year. The only problem was that I’m not very "handy". Woodworking stuff and DIY projects don’t come naturally to me. I’m also not the sort of guy who just dives into something I have no idea how to do and figures it out along the way. Especially not for anything this important.

I could have purchased one from the Little Free Library website but they seemed a bit expensive and I wanted to give her something I made with my own hands. I mentioned my plans to my friend Jason late last week, along with my complete lack of confidence in my own skills to do so, and he gladly offered his help.

There are plenty of plans for building your own Little Free Library out there. We live in an 1886 Victorian home and I chose a plan that could be adapted to match similar architectural lines (steeply pitched roof, double doors, plank siding, etc.).

We started with building the basic structure from 3/4 inch plywood. This formed a good foundation to add details to.

Next, the molding was added using some 2 inch cedar.

After that, the siding was cut to fit and installed. This is the same 1886 cedar siding that is on our house — reclaimed.

Cedar shakes were cut and added to the roof.

Finally, the doors were constructed from cedar (with plexiglass windows) and attached with self-closing hinges.

All told, it took a couple of solid work days to complete, but that is largely due to the customization and design choices put into it. A more simple plan would likely take even someone of my lesser skills less than a day. Now that I’ve been through the process, I’m pretty confident that I could and will likely do another one on my own.

Most importantly to me, my wife absolutely loved it! Not only because she has long wanted one of her own but also because she knew how much of a stretch it was for me to build it.

Little Free Libraries are a wonderful thing that brings the gift of reading to communities all around the world. Find one near you and go grab a free book (and leave one too). But, also, consider building one of your own — especially if there is not yet one in your area.

On Interruptions — The Brooks Review

On Interruptions — The Brooks Review

What it means is that if you want to get work done, uninterrupted, you better not be doing it on an iPhone. And if you really want to be left alone, write on paper.

Solid advice. Ben took a poll so it has to be true. Plus, more reasons to write on paper.

The Pile of Index Cards PoIC system | Unclutterer

The Pile of Index Cards PoIC system | Unclutterer

Hawk Sugano you’ll find him on Flickr as “hawkexpress” has devised a system he calls Pile of Index Cards PoIC. It’s a combination of a “brain dump” emptying one’s mind of all important information by writing it down, long-term storage for reference, and David Allen’s GTD method. It’s all managed by a “dock” of 3×5 index cards, and the result is tidy and searchable. The following are instructions for how to set up and use the system.

It is rare that I come across a paper based productivity system I haven’t heard of before. This looks like a really neat.



Ultimately, the Hobonichi Planner amazed me. Its benefits are subtle, and it is meant to be used daily. The Planner is thoughtfully designed, able to be employed for a multitude of tasks, and a pleasure to use. The more I used, the more I started to appreciate it, and to feel that it truly belonged to me. It truly does exemplify the Japanese concept of ‘Yo no bi’ – or ‘beauty through use’.

A good review with some really nice pictures. This is what I use for my daily log. I love mine.

How I Use Notebooks — Productivityist

How I Use Notebooks — Productivityist

I tend to keep either a stack of Frictionless Capture Cards or a smaller notebook (like a Field Notes notebook, for example) with me for when I’m out and about, and I use my Pilot Coleto multi-pen to write down anything in it. Why a multi-pen? Because I use the different colours to represent different things.

For especially visual people, the use of a multi-pen might be a great thing to try. As Mike goes on to say:

That way I have a visual trigger whenever I look at the notebook – I know what item is for what category. Again, the colours create a firmer connection for me.

Handwritten lyrics for “Love Will Tear Us Apart” – Boing Boing

Handwritten lyrics for “Love Will Tear Us Apart” – Boing Boing.

Handwritten lyrics for

Very cool. Posting this one for my friend Dawn who is a huge Joy Division fan.

Mechanical pencil torture test – Boing Boing

Mechanical pencil torture test – Boing Boing.

We tortured these mechanical pencils. You can probably imagine what happened next.

Actually, most of them survived well enough for a short review of easy at the end. Glad to see my personal favorite, the Kuru Toga, faired well.

Subscribe to your favorite notebooks | Out of Pages

Subscribe to your favorite notebooks | Out of Pages.

Out of Pages offers subscriptions to notebooks for people who love thinking on paper.

If you are the type of person that fills up your notebooks with a certain regularity, this service might be just the thing you need. Sign up for automatic delivery by mail of either Moleskine or Field Notes notebooks on the schedule of your choosing (for instance, every 3 months). If you finish one up before your next schedule delivery they include a postcard you can send them to get it sooner. It’s a neat idea. I only wish more notebook brands/types were available.

Your Notebook, Another’s Notes

I’m fascinated by the new (to me, at least) uses people find for notebooks.

While I was in San Francisco, my friend Dawn showed me one of the ways she uses a small Moleskine Reporter’s Notebook while she is traveling. Often, if she meets someone new, she hands them the notebook and asks that they write anything they want in it. It could be long or short. Just their name or their life story. Anything they want.

I found it a neat idea. Similar to the notebook-as-greeting-card idea that I linked to a while back. Other people get to write themselves into your story. And you get to take away something personal and tangible to remember them with.