If you know me, you probably know I’m a bit of a gadget girl. But you may not know I am also a great lover of analogue, particularly when it comes to planning and organisation. I’m drafting a post on my analogue system for keeping my shit sorted (prompted by Rachel), but before I post that, I wanted to share about the thing I’m obsessed with that forms the core of my analogue organisation system: my Midori Traveler’s Notebook (MTN) (and my MTN-style notebook cover from Foxy Fix).
Midori Traveler’s Notebooks are a system of notebooks that combine a leather cover with individual notebooks that you insert into the cover. The cover has an elastic strap that runs down the inside and you insert books into it by opening them up in the centre and slipping them under the elastic. When you close the cover, you pull another piece of elastic around it to hold it closed.
You can put more than one notebook in it by using a rubber band to hold two notebooks together, and then sliding the rubber banded notebooks under the elastic, with one notebook at either side. And you can even get a third notebook in there too, by putting it under the elastic, between the two rubber-banded notebooks.
It’s probably tricky to picture how the system works and in particular, I think it’s very hard to picture how inserting multiple notebooks works, so I’ve made a short video to demonstrate.
Midori make a whole range of inserts (they call them refills), from monthly calendar pages, to a weekly diary, to plain lined notebooks, to grid notebooks, to sketch paper books, to plastic card holders, to pen loops… There are 24 different refills for the regular sized notebook.
It’s such a simple system: just a piece of leather and a couple of pieces of elastic that hold together any combination of notebooks you like. And that’s really the beauty of the system: the fact you can mix and match refills to create your perfect notebook.
I won’t talk too much more about how the system works, because other people have already done this much better than I can. For starters, there is this comprehensive guide from Jet Pens.
Besides the Midori Traveler’s Notebook, there are many other versions of MTN-style notebook covers made by other sellers, very often artisans who sell through marketplaces like Etsy. These MTN-style notebook covers are commonly referred to as fauxdoris. The two big sellers are Chic Sparrow and Foxy Fix, both of which have their own websites, but there are many, many other sellers on Etsy. I haven’t bought from Chic Sparrow, but I have bought covers from Foxy Fix.
I bought my first MTN-style notebook cover from Foxy Fix in their seconds sale. It was a thin, hard, green leather. I used it for a few days and decided I really liked the system but not the size I had bought (Foxy Fix do a range of non-standard cover sizes). And I really wanted one of the limited edition blue MTNs and I managed to find one on eBay so I snapped it up. I love it. It’s my favourite cover to use and hold. The hold part is important, because this is a gloriously tactile system, and one of the delights of the MTN is the way it feels in your hand – the texture of the leather, the weight, the thickness.
But I’m into compartmentalisation and I wanted to have more notebooks inside my cover. So for Christmas last year, the kids bought me (i.e. I bought myself and passed it on for gifting) a Buterscotch Wunderlust Foxy Fix cover, in their ‘regular extra room’ size. I love my Butterscotch Wunderlust for a number of reasons, but the main reason is that I can jam so much into it, and there are two features that make that work. Firstly, it doesn’t just have the single internal strand of elastic that a proper MTN has. Instead, it has four strands of elastic, which means you can slip four individual notebooks inside without using any rubber bands to join notebooks together. I’ve had up to three notebooks in my blue MTN, but the centre one sits out a bit further than the others, partly because of the single strand of elastic, and partly because of the width of the spine (see the video above). Which leads me to the second feature of my Wunderlust that makes it so great: it’s wider than a Midori cover. When it’s stuffed full of notebooks, the effect of the extra width is that it makes the spine wider. So combined with the four strands of elastic, this extra width means I can fit four notebooks, a card insert, a zip insert, two homemade folder inserts, and a homemade semester calendar. Basically, everything I could possibly need.
I made another video showing how this four strand notebook works, because I think it’s probably a bit tricky to understand from a text description.
My little obsession with MTN-style notebooks is a rather expensive one, because I’m always trying new inserts or refills to fine tune my system of notebooks. But I really enjoy using my notebook and it is my constant companion. There’s something really reassuring about the weight and the feel of it, and about knowing that everything I need is inside.
There are heaps of videos around about this system, but these are two of my favourites, because they focus on the notebooks and not on heavily embellished scrapbook-style page layouts, which you’ll see all over YouTube and Pinterest:
I mentioned JetPens’ guide earlier, and Australian seller Bookbinders has a nice guide too. For inspiration on using an MTN, check out beautiful stationery store Baum Kuchen’s blog, where they publish stories about how people use their MTNs.
In Australia, you can buy Midori Traveler’s Notebook covers and refills from:
- Scratch & Jotter (they ship fast and include a little note with a cute Midori paperclip, or two or three!)
More on my analogue system for keeping my life in order soon!