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

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.

Continue reading

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

Daniel Smith Social Watercolor Play Day

The coolest thing about moving to Seattle is that I’ll soon be able to participate in many cool art events here. The best perk is living in the same city as Daniel Smith Art Supplies in downtown! Kate from Seattle Urban Sketchers invited me to go to Daniel Smith’s Mothership event: Social Watercolor Play Day.

Swagatika and I had to take the bus and walk on foot for 15 minutes through a creepy industrial (wasteland) before finding the factory-like store that nestled nearby 1st Avenue. It was worth it.

We were led to a gallery/classroom space at the back of the store where people are already setting up their table. Daniel Smith provides us Canson 100% cotton paper, mixing palettes, some brushes, and the ENTIRE line of their artist’s extra fine watercolor. (Cue heaven music)  Continue reading

USK Seattle – Meadowbrook Pond

I attended my first urban sketchers’ meetup since moving to Seattle! A charming little pond and park that is located in North Seattle. The air in the morning was cool and damp, but a welcoming change to the dry ashy clouds a few days ago.

I always say that the Urban Sketchers organization always feels like an immediate family no matter which city I go to. Kate, the host of the ad-hoc weekday meet ups, welcomed me warmly. I’m also surprised at the attendance rate of the meet up despite it being on a Friday. It seems that Seattle is filled with art enthusiasts!

Since I’ve yet to acquire a sketcher’s chair, I have to find a location with support for my sketchbook and watercolor set ups. The railings inside a pagoda are perfect for my purpose. I used a Pocket Painter and my beloved Rosemary sable & squirrel mop to do a watercolor wash.

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However, there is only so much green scenery an urban sketcher can take. I decided to draw my next subject: a colorful pagoda with bright green and red roof! The installation is quite eye-catching among all the grass and leaves. Thankfully the light drizzling stopped when I had to change location (perching on a large rock.)  Continue reading

2018 Hobonichi Covers Release!

IT’S OUT! The much-awaited day for all stationery addicts out there. September is journal war zone in Japan and Hobonichi has released its series of line-up now to satisfy our craving. They call it “Advance notice.” We hate it and love it. There are always those covers that are too pretty to use or some that captured our hearts but the price tag scares us away.

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No matter whether you’ll be buying the cover or not, it’s always fun to look through all the “lifestyle” photos of Hobonichi in real life (imagining myself in a flowy skirt and holding the Hobonichi with  blurry romantic backgrounds.)

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Before I dive into the world of Hobonichi, let’s go over some basic vocabulary so we all are on the same page (beginners take note!)

  • Hobonichi – Obviously, the brand name
  • Techo (手帳) –Japanese for “journal or planner”. It literally translates to “account in your hands
  • Hobonichi Techo – Refers to the Hobonichi brand journals, no matter the size. Your Weeks, A6, Avec, Cousin, are all “Hobonichi Techo” or “Hobo” as I like to call it
  • Hobonichi Techo Planner (A6 English) – The Engish Version A6 size
  • Hobonichi Techo Original (A6 Japanese) – The Japanese Version A6 size
  • Hobonichi Techo Cousin (or the Cousin) – The Japanese Version in A5 size (there is no English version of this, yet)
  • Weeks – The slim palm-sized version of the journal that is pocket friendly (Don’t mistake it for the “Weekly” as that is an A6 Hobonichi notebook insert that has vertical daily schedules)
  • Avec set – The type of Hobonichi that is divided into half year booklets (Jan – Jun, and Jul – Dec). They are available in both A6, A5 sizes but only in Japanese (so far…)
  • Covers – The greatest appeal of Hobonichi each year. The various covers are collaborations with different artists, brands, and designed to protect your journals and look good in your bag and on coffee tables.

What you need to know about Hobonichi Covers release in 2018

1.) Save the date!

There are some key dates that you can take note of, whether you are international Hobonichi users or luckily lives in Japan…

  • August 23rd, 2017 – What has changed this year?
  • August 24th, 2017 – Hobonichi accessories line up a.k.a. things you stuff into the box to justify for shipping and process fee
  • September 1st, 2017 – THE SWARM a.k.a. Hobonichi Techo release for sale!

More dates to note are available here

2.) Fun archive quotes

Each year Hobonichi announces its new release in different ways. We all love the little comics that are released each day which personifies what we think about the Hobonichi. These cute cartoon characters are lovable and perfect to print out and stick in your journals! (More cartoons here)

3.) Triple the size! Weeks MEGA

Introducing Weeks MEGA! This is one news that Hobonichi announced before August 23rd. Remember their survey late last year for all Hobonichi users? Apparently many people have reflected that although Weeks is a good size, they wish there are more note pages. It looks like the MEGA version is only available for basic colors, not the more artistic ones.

I personally wonder if this defies the purpose of the weeks, which is to be light and super portable. I like how it is so slim it fits into my pocket literally. Plus I rarely use the note pages anyway. However, I could also see the appeal for users who perhaps keep the Weeks at their desk and carry it around from meetings to meetings.

4.) They know I like penguins

Honestly though, what’s with all these penguin-themed covers? Just a few month ago I bragged to my friend about my resolve to just stick with the Cousin Avec only…yet Hobonichi came and slap me back into reality with these awesome covers and patterns. I don’t know how many people have tagged me on social media informing me about these covers. I KNOW I KNOW! STOP tempting me!

This penguin is actually a children’s story book written by Shigesato Itoi and illustrated by Teruhiko Yumura. As for the “strawberry field” cover featured on the top right, I’m just wanted to point out the excessive use of penguins as accessories to tempt me into other covers.

5.) “Cover Only” Price Change

Ah….the harsh reality of civilization, labor, and manufacturing costs. I happen to come across this note.

“Due to an increase in material costs and other unavoidable factors, starting with the 2017-edition, it has become difficult to maintain the usual price of our Colors and Faux Fabric covers. In order to maintain the price of the covers, we will be offering these covers at the usual price when bought as a set with the Hobonichi Techo book. We apologize for the trouble, but when ordering the cover without a book, we will not be able to keep that price, so Cover Only orders will cost slightly more. Please add to your cart as a “Book & Cover set” to keep the cover’s lower price.”

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BUT! I decided to check out the notifications on THIS year’s web store and it seems that this announcement was already in effect for 2017 covers. So basically I don’t see any drastic price hike. If you’ve already bought a Hobonichi last year, the prices are basically the same.

All in all, I’m super psyched more news release from Hobonichi. I personally will definitely be getting the Hobonichi Techo Cousin Avec again for 2018. I need the bigger space to write, sketch, and use up all my washi tape and stickers! However, I’m still undecided about the Weeks and Original size…

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I’ll end this post with a quote from the founder of Hobonichi and his note and thoughts about the Hobonichi Techo this year. You can read the whole article here.

A great deal of Hobonichi Techo users we spoke to save their books after the year is over. Once they’re done using the techo, they don’t throw it away, but keep it, along with both the good and the bad things inside. – Shigesato Itoi

This is going to be my fourth year of using the Hobonichi Techo. I’m so proud to be a part of the huge “Hobonichi Techo” community. It has led me to great adventures throughout these years and made me more conscious about things that are happening every day. Furthermore, Hobonichi has become the bridge to so many precious friendship all over the world, which I talked about in this interview with Hobonichi earlier this year.

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Just like every one of you, I have not yet decided on which cover I’m getting, but I’m getting antsy and can’t wait to see more pictures that you’ll share of your choice!