Monday, March 28, 2011

Yet Another Journal

I have written a post about how I like to "collect" journals a while back. Oh I intended to use them when I purchased them but almost never do. I do carry a Moleskine around with me, I guess that's my mobile journal. But I've longed to have one main journal that will stay at home for my thoughts and ideas.

I've been struggling with some lifestyle issues, that's why I haven't been blogging here (among a lot of other things) as often as I'd like to. Without going into detail, I have a bad habit that I've had for a long time and it is spiraling downward and getting worse. I've consulted with a life coach for the past 5 months to help get me out of this rut and get my life back in balance, but I'm still not there yet. However I feel that he has given me enough insight that I can work my way out of this, and I believe and hope that journaling will help!

So I found myself again at Barnes and Noble looking for yet another journal.

There were a lot of nice ones. I was looking for one with a pen loop but there were none. Then I decided to splurge and get a leather covered journal made in Italy. I opened and looked at a few, and this one stood out so I bought it!

What I really liked about this particular journal are the deckle edge pages. Well they're not real deckle edges but perhaps, faux deckle edges. Still it stood out and caught my interest!

I think this mark shows that it is Fabriano paper or journal insert, but I'm not 100% sure.

Of course now I have to "pair" a pen to it. I was not about to buy a new pen but instead choose one from my existing collection. Here is where I stuggle, do I write in a nice hand, or do I just write and focus on composition? It should be a no brainer since I'm the only one who will read the journal so it doesn't mater how it looks.

If I wanted to write in a nice script I would choose a nice vintage flexible nib fountain pen. But for me to write in a nice script, I need to have proper posture, preferably sit at a desk, and also I have a hard time writing (actually lettering) on a surace that is not flat. This will discourage me from writing and move my focus toward "lettering" and away from composition.

So writing in a nice script is out!

Now do I want to use a ballpoint pen? I can write "pretty nice" with a good ballpoint pen...but didn't I just decide not to try and make it look nice? Besides there is no character, no feeling, no "sabao" when writing with a ballpoint or rollerball pen.

Fountain pen it is! I love big fat pens. I thought about it and decided to use my Mont Blanc 149 and ink it with Mont Blanc Oyster Grey ink.

I just love the Mont Blanc ink bottles!

I wanted to secure the pen to the journal, that's why I was looking for one with a pen loop. I was hoping I could secure the pen under the closure strap, but there is simply no way the 149 would fit.

I tried a bunch other pens, even the "skinny" ones and none fit.

Then I remembered I had bought pen holders from a craft fair last year with the intention of giving them away as Christmas gifts... never happened!

So I may as well use them, I won't be able to secure the pen to the journal but at least it'll be protected in a nice cover. I thought they were simple pouches to cover pens, I hadn't opened the packaging until now and I was floored when I saw the entire product.

A perfect fit!

Have you ever noticed that when you write something down, there's a pretty good chance that it will get done?

Many years ago I read a book titled Put Your Heart on Paper by Henriette Anne Klauser. There was a chapter titled "Write It Down: Make It Happen". I see now she has an entire book with that title. Well I just purchased that book and add it to my little library of "make you feel good" books!

Anyway hopefully for now, I am on my journey to the life I want to live!

Oh by the way, when I was at the cashier paying for my journal, I saw this, it looked so cool and even came with a small pen. I just had to buy it!

Sigh...yet another journal!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Art of Coffee

I try to keep this blog about art, and today I'm doing a post about the art of coffee! I've been hearing about a coffee shop on Twitter named Beach Bum Cafe in Downtown Honolulu. I love coffee and everything about coffee so I really wanted to check it out. I rarely venture into downtown, but since my wife wanted to go to nearby Chinatown, I had her drop me off and I went looking for Beach Bum Cafe,

I found Beach Bum Cafe. Here's the window in front, nothing fancy.

I walked in and was greeted by owner Dennis McQuoid.

Very nice clean open space.

There were two customers seated enjoying their coffee. I overheard that one of them drove over all the way from Kailua, Oahu just for the coffee there. That may not be far in miles especially for non Hawaii people reading this, but it is pretty far by Hawaii standards. Not just the distance but having to drive up and through the Ko`oloau Mountains to get to Honolulu

I asked Dennis to select my coffee, kind of like asking a sommelier to choose your wine. By the way I don't drink!

He suggested Red Caturra.

I also let him choose how my coffee was to be brewed and he suggested brewing with a vaccum pot. I've heard of this but have never actually experienced it. Pretty cool stuff!

I had to savor the finished brew in a paper cup because I still needed to walk over and meet my family in Chinatown. My first impression was that it was very smooth. But after I left and finished my cup, I realized that it tasted like any other cup of good coffee. I confirmed what I already knew that I am not a coffee expert, connoisseur, aficionado, etc. I don't experience fancy stuff like finish, fruity, etc like those wine experts.

It was good coffee, but I did not get the "thunder and lightning with angelic choir singing" experience I thought I would.

I then realized that because I love coffee so much, I almost always drink good coffee. No Folgers instant coffee or Sanka from a bottle. I always buy good quality coffee, and prepare it in the best of my abilities. Out and about I try to choose good brewed coffee preferably from independent "coffee houses" rather than the big box places. But heck even McDonalds here serves a Hawaiian blend coffee. So experiencing a good quality microbrewed coffee was not too much beyond my ordinary cup of coffee.

It was then that I had the revelation I needed. This what is meant in the proverbial "Focus on the journey not the destination". Oh the end product, a good cup of coffee, is important and I would say is the goal or destination. But I realize now that I also enjoy the journey of preparing or choosing the best brewed retail cup of coffee as much if not more than I enjoy drinking it. I love the term "from the bean to the cup".

I won't roast my own beans, but I'll purchase the best roasted beans I can find, and there are a lot of good roasters of Hawaiian Coffee here.

I may look into organic coffee.

I will look into better storage for my beans so they stay as fresh as possible.

I will grind only the amount of beans I need at a time. After talking to Dennis I will now look into a burr grinder and get rid of my blade grinder.

I will also weigh my beans instead of using that little scoop.

I currently use a French Press but I will look into a pour over brewer for a change of pace. Yes I love coffee toys!

I even have coffee music to listen to as I savor my cup of coffee.

I plan to go back to Beach Bum Cafe and try some good Espresso from this impressive Italian Espresso machine.

These coffee tampers remind me of the wax seals I use to seal my letters.

Shamefully I have reverted to the use of a Keurig K-Cup brewer for convenience, it does brew pretty good coffee! But from now on when I do have the time to prepare a really good cup of coffee, I will enjoy the prepping of my coffee just as much as drinking the coffee itself. From choosing the roasted beans to storing them properly to measuring and grinding to brewing...

I will enjoy the journey!