Welcome to Penguins Creative!

A Stationery addict and lover of all things colorful. At Penguins Creative we celebrate Hobonichi, planners, writing tools, stickers, washi tapes, watercolor, and creative journaling. Put those all together to create memorable pages of your life each day!

“The starting point of discovering who you are, your gifts, your talents, your dreams, is being comfortable with yourself. Spend time alone. Write in a journal. Take long walks in the woods.”

– Robin S. Sharma

Finding My Fountain Pen Trifecta in 2021

I can’t believe that I’m claiming fountain pen peace this early on in 2021. I’ve started using fountain pens very early on in my stationery journey, starting with the beginner-friendly Pilot Kakuno that frequents my Hobonichi Techo. As my eyes open more to amazing writing tools and accessories in the stationery community, I come to learn and appreciate fountain pen more as a collector’s hobby. There are trial and errors in the process, but over the years, my fountain pen collection grew to 14 strong (with a few bought and sold in between.)

It wasn’t until 2020 that I started venturing into more expensive fountain pens (what’s expensive? It’s all relative…after all). I used to buy fountain pens in the $30 – $60 range, such as Pilot Prera, TWSBI Eco, and Lamy Safari. However, I was attracted by the elegant and vintage looks of a Sailor Pro Gear and Platinum’s cigar shaped barrels. There’s also the allure of a *gold nib*, as opposed to steel nibs used in cheaper fountain pens.

In 2020, I definitely upgrade to the $100 – $200 range pieces in the fountain pen world. Does this come with the maturity of myself turning 30 years old? Or am I looking for solace from stress in high quality stationery during the pandemic? Nevertheless, I treated myself to a TWSBI Diamond 580 in Rose Gold for my birthday in April. One month later, I got married and my husband got me a Sailor Pro Gear Slim in the Shikiori series as a wedding gift (after some deliberate nudging)!

Since then, I decided that I’m brave enough to start seeking out other cool fountain pens outside of my TWSBI comfort zone (you might notice I have plenty of TWSBI Eco fountain pens)

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Spring time activities: Unboxing the Stickiiclub Hanami Box

Hey friends, the snowdrops in my backyard that were crushed by the heavy snow last week sprung back into life. This means it’s almost spring, right? I’m super excited for the air to become warmer, and I can switch out from my heavy sweaters and yoga pants into lighter sweat shorts and tank tops for sunnier seasons. Another thing I’m really looking forward to…is sakura season! You might think I’m jumping the guns, since cherry blossoms don’t start blooming in Seattle until late March and early April, but in Japan the hype for these pink florets are already beginning.

Another stationery brand that is hopping on to this cherry blossom season is Stickiiclub, and they actually started the pre-order to their standalone project: the Hanamai Box, earlier this year! Hanami (花見) is Japanese, and stands for “flower viewing” which is an activity that Japanese people partake in during spring time to gather with family and friends and appreciate the blooming flowers by having picnics underneath the cherry blossom trees!

The Hanami Box that came in the mail from Stickiiclub reminded me of a bento box filled with goodies that you can snack on, and in this case, it is a case of stationery goodies! The moment I opened the box, my heart flutters at the sight of all things pink. I’m more of a “green” girl but during sakura season, I can’t helped but be enamored by everything pink.

This Hanami box is quite special, because not only does it follows the theme of pink sakura, it also includes motifs such as Japanese dessert, matcha, and cute penguin characters alongside the products. Two artists that participated in this collaboration are @okashi_na_okashi and @imaginstation, whom I admire for their whimsical art style and mouth watering food illustrations.

Sakura, matcha, penguins…slap a label that says “April” on it, and it’s already mine. I couldn’t help but squeal as I unboxed these items during my Twitch Livestream last Sunday. The whole box contains quite a few items, but here are some I’m particularly excited about:

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It’s a snowy creative weekend

It’s always rainy in Seattle, but this past weekend, it snowed!

Hi readers, sorry for being away for so long. I’ve been active on many other platforms: Instagram, Youtube, Twitch, and my 2020 soul project The Stationery Cafe Podcast. However, I decided to give my blog some TLC as well this year. Perhaps a tandem of a post a week would work?

In Seattle, our winter isn’t as harsh as everywhere else in the country. We get a few cold days, and sometimes a sprinkling of snow once or twice in January or February. However, we were all caught off guard by the snowstorm that gave the city a crispy white makeover over the Valentine’s Day weekend. We’re not mad about it. In fact, the whole city had turned into a giant playground where adults and children alike are sledding on snow drift-covered roads, building snowmen, and having a good time.

Cookie, my 5-months old golden doodle, had a great time. He was swimming and jumping through the snow banks like a little dolphin, it’s so adorable. However, the snow clumps were a pain to remove and a hassle for both parties.

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How I’m using 7 Planners/Journals for 2020

I’m not crazy, I’m just a hopeless stationery addict!

The planner craze of September (when all major brands released their newest designs and layouts for 2020) is over. I’m left with an overwhelming sense of indecision. There are SO MANY great planners and journals out there, which one should I use?

This major life decision I have to make at the end of each year is one I’m looking forward to most, and also the most excruciating because it’s SO hard to choose. There’s also the period of waiting for the dream planner and new items to be shipped and delivered so that I can actually test it out with my pens and see if the layout works. Thankfully, I didn’t regret any of my decisions and were able to nail down the analog system I’ll be using for 2020.

For 2020, I’ll be using 7 planners/journals

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You didn’t count wrong! One was just a cover and it will house the 5-year journal

Ring in 2020, I’m armed and ready with 7 planners/journals that I plan to use consistently. Before I scare anyone away with the crazy quantity, let me further explain myself. Continue reading

Painting and Sketching Edmonds Classic Car Show

My First Classic Car Show!

I’ve never been to car shows, after all, they are sleek, metal, muscle looking vehicles that I really never cared much for in life. I’m a driver but it’s just a medium to get me from place to place. However, I can also see how some people could be enthusiasts for cars just like I am for stationery. Therefore, as an urban sketcher, I thought it would be interesting to join Seattle’s Urban Sketcher’s September outing to Edmonds to capture the Classic Car show!

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And of course, it rained that morning.

Nevertheless, I still wanted to go, because it’s been a while since I’ve participated in an urban sketchers outing, and I’m starting to think my watercolor arms are rusty and falling off! I ended up being overly ambitious and taking WAY too make art supplies than I need—a sketch pad, a sketchbook, watercolor, thermos (for coffee), small stool, and my new iPad air (for some digital sketching). Continue reading

13 Reasons Why I Love Using A Hobonichi Techo

My name is April and I’m a Hobonichi addict.

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As an avid user of the Hobonichi brand since 2014, I can’t help but take this time of the year (the time of frenzy when everyone’s ordering the new releases and getting their planner plans in a row) to think about this techo and appreciate what it means to me all these years. Here are the 13 big reasons why I loved using since I fell head over heels into this rabbit hole, and why I’ll continue to use it for the foreseeable future.

1. It’s the perfect playground for my daily stories

I grew up using schedulers/planners/journals, whatever you called them in your culture. I’ve blown through the flowery phase where all my book’s pages are filled with cartoon characters, to more nicely illustrated planners that are formatted with weekly pages. To be honest, when I first was gifted a Hobonichi Techo (the original size) by my aunt in 2012, I thought this boring, white, blank planner is the book that’s going to propel me into the adulting world with work notes and meeting schedules…how wrong was I!

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Today, I don’t use my Hobonichi as a planner, but instead, I use it as a journal where I record my daily events—the people I talked to, the things I did, the food I ate, the feelings I felt, and more much. Furthermore, the blank canvas that is a Hobonichi page allows me the freedom to record my stories in whatever ways I want! Whether it’s through a doodle, a patiently lettered quote, or simply, a cute sticker,

2. The perfect paper for all my favorite pens

How does a notebook like a Hobonichi Techo hold 365 individual pages and manage to stay some nimble and portable? The team that designed it needed to balance the fine line of thin paper but durable enough for the everyday wear.

You might have heard of the Tomoe River Paper, it’s a special Japanese paper that is ultra-lightweight but surprisingly tough against most inks you can think of. This is why most fountain pen enthusiasts flock to this paper because of its unique surface that could handle ink and in many cases showcase the beautiful sheen of a fountain pen handwriting. I always feel confident writing in a Hobonichi Techo, using my favorite pens—Uni-ball Signo, Pilot Coleto, Zebra Mildliners, Sailor Shikiori brush pens, Kuretake fudegokochi brush, Twsbi Eco, and many many more.

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How I’m Using The Hobonichi Weeks MEGA for 2020

It’s that time of the year!

On the internet, everyone who’s into planners or journaling is living for the hyped-up planner season. September is when the Japanese planner/scheduler market went above and beyond to create fantastic new layouts and release new designs for the year 2020. Because planning 3 months ahead of the year is not too crazy, for us stationery addicts.

I’ve continued to use my trusted sidekick, the Hobonichi Cousin Avec set throughout the entire 2018, and is still going strong this year as well. However, the overwhelming peer pressure and FOMO in the Hobonichi community had led me to pull the trigger on adding a new techo to my line up for 2020—a Hobonichi Weeks Mega.

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An apple green one, to boot. (Did you know that green is my favorite color?)

To be honest, following the release and being able to look at the entire lineup of Hobonichi’s 2020 designs in August had really hyped up my anticipation. Continue reading

Vendor Day 2017 adventure at Daniel Smith

Well, that came out of nowhere! When I first arrived at Seattle and started going to all the art events at Daniel Smith, I keep hearing the word “Vendor Day” that is supposedly a VERY special day I should not miss out on.

So once a year Daniel Smith organizes this huge event inside their mothership store down in SODO and invites 20 or so vendors of well-known art supply brands: Strathmore, Winsor and Newton, Faber Castell, Davinchi, you name it all. We were warned about the place becoming very packed as the day goes on, so Swagatika and I grabbed an Uber and arrived at 10:00am prompt!

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At the door, you are handed a “passport” sheet of paper that allows you to collect the initials of the artist/seller at each vendor booth. With 12 signatures, you are eligible to enter the random lottery of amazing art supply prizes!

It’s not entirely untrue to say we’re acting like kids at a candy store, but we’re giddy with excitement and giggling all the way (we’re 27 and 30, respectively.) At each vendor booth, there is an artist or the representative from the brand showing us a demonstration of the tools. They even let us play with their brushes and colors on all types of paper!  Continue reading

USK SEATTLE – Ballard Locks

Look at all of us enthusiastic urban sketchers, please disregard the gray clouds.

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Finally, I was able to make it to Urban Sketchers Seattle’s monthly outing, and this time it’s held at the iconic Ballard Locks. The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks is a set of locks located at the west end of Salmon Bay (I love all these confusing sounding names). I’ve only been here once and I remember it being equally windy and gray.

Swagatika and I arrive a bit late, but we can already see the large group gathering from afar before everyone disperses. I anticipated that there won’t be many places to sit, so I opted for a more portable urban sketching setup (watch the video of my USK set up here.)

The lightweight foam board and the postcard-sized paper allows me to stand easily at any location without much stress on my arms. Continue reading

Stationery Meetup SEA – Elm & Starbucks

The first week in Emerald City, and I’m already itching for some stationery action with my fellow stationery geek friends here in Seattle. Ashley and I met up for some pre-crafting at Elm Coffee Roasters. A cozy and comfortable coffee shop at 240 2nd Ave S. The minimalistic decor and wooden furnishing really match our stationery vibe, especially when Ashley pulls out a new set of wood stamps featuring dried bouquets.

Ashley brought her Traveler’s Notebook while I continue to catch up in my Hobonichi Techo Cousin Avec. I swear the avec for the second half of the year is already so bulky, I don’t know what I’m going to do for the remaining two months (October & November).

What do you do in a stationery meet up?

Each time I meet up with Ashley I’m always inspired by her collaging techniques. Continue reading