Monday, 25 September 2017

Artline Monday - Thinking of you week

Have you heard of Thinking of you week?  I can't believe it is in it's fourth year and I have only just learned about it!  The idea behind this special week is to create a wave of love and happiness by sending greeting cards, letters and notes to people to let them know you care.  The good news is you don't have to wait to grab your pens and other stationery bits, the week starts today!

I have always been a fan of letter writing and love it when I see a handwritten envelope arrive through the letter box.  The majority of my post is bills, leaflets and marketing materials so receiving a card or letter always brightens my day!  It is nice to get a text, a message or email from friends but post is extra special, someone has taken the time to put pen to paper and get in touch which leaves me feeling happy and positive.  If you want to spread a little happiness too this week is the perfect time to do it.


Here are some ideas to celebrate Thinking of you week...


Send a card and put a smile on someone's face!


You could send a greeting card to someone special just to let them know you are thinking about them.  If you have some fun stamps like this gold star one you can make plain envelopes look more exciting!



Spread a little happiness with greeting cards and fun stamps

Write a letter to a friend

Why don't you send a letter to one of your friends?  If you are like me then you might be hoarding some lovely writing paper and envelopes, break them out and put them to use!  


Find yourself a penpal


If you like the idea of having a penpal there are lots of groups on Facebook dedicated to helping you find someone to exchange letters with all over the world or hit google and see what website are available.


Send a drawing or postcard

If you have children why not get them to send a picture or postcard to someone they care about?  I'm sure their Nanny, Grandad, Aunt, Uncle or best friend would love a little surprise in the mail from them!

My daughter's seascape drawing for someone special

Write a note

Another idea for children is to pop a little note in their school or lunch bag for them to find later.  It could be a joke, a silly poem or just wishing them a good day at school.  If your note is going in with their lunch make sure you use a waterproof pen like this Artline Supreme permanent marker so it will still be readable if anything leaks or spills!  If you want you can add some stickers or extra decoration with a metallic pen like the Artline 900XF, I love how well pink and silver go together.

My note and Artline pens

Did you already know about Thinking of you week?  Will you be joining in and sending some surprises out in the mail?  Studies have shown that receiving a handwritten card, letter or note has an emotional impact which makes people feel far more special and cared for and I think that is a beautiful thing!  Let's get writing!


Friday, 15 September 2017

Artline Monday - Hand lettering and calligraphy

Earlier in the year I was bitten by the lettering bug and ever since then I have been trying to improve my writing and learn how to do calligraphy again.  I used to be quite good at it when I was younger, I had a set with different colour inks and assorted nibs but I got out of the habit and I'd forgotten the basics so I had to start again from the beginning.  I would definitely say that I am still a novice but I do have some tips for you today if you fancy giving it a go.


Created using Artline calligraphy pens, calligraphy markers,
brush markers and drawing pens

Look online

If you don't know where to start then the internet holds the answers!  I have found lots of help and ideas for hand lettering by simply Googling it and searching Pinterest.  There are worksheets you can print off and use or you can find interesting fonts to copy freehand.  There are also hours and hours of video on YouTube with lessons on how to do calligraphy and lettering for beginners.  Grab yourself some paper, a pen or brush marker, fire up the videos and start learning!


Take your time and don't forget to breathe


A good piece of advice I was given by a calligraphy expert is to go slowly and take your time.  There's no rush and the longer you take on each letter or word the more control you will have over your pen. 

It is really easy to sit and hold your breath while you are writing because you are concentrating so hard, don't forget to breathe!  

Have fun

There's no point in learning a new skill if you don't enjoy it!

Mix fonts and pens

Try mixing fonts and different kinds of pens to create a fun look.  In the spread above I used some Stix drawing pens which have a really fine tip and then paired that with brush markers which are much broader and great for any type of flowing/cursive writing.

Practice

Spend a little time on your writing each day, you will soon see an improvement!

I am using these Artline calligraphy pens to practice the alphabet at the moment, they are available in four different widths, 1mm through to 4mm and come in a range of colours.  What I especially like about these pens is that the ink doesn't bleed through the pages of my notebooks so I can use both sides of the paper and not waste any space.  They are also smudge resistant so there's less chance I will ruin my work with a stray finger!  

Depending on how much spare time I have, I try to do a page or two of practice a day.  I want to get to the point where it becomes second nature for me to write letters this way instead of my regular handwriting!  When you are trying to do calligraphy remember that your down strokes should be harder making them thicker and the up strokes lighter and thinner.  

I also have a few calligraphy markers in my collection, these are permanent markers and are great for crafts like card making because they write on coated papers that are nice and glossy.

My calligraphy practice using a 1mm pen in sepia

Cheat

Sometimes I sketch out the word I want to write in pencil before going over it in pen.  It gives me a chance to work on how it looks before I commit to doing it in ink and I can play around with the thickness and adding little flourishes to the letters.  

It doesn't have to be perfect


It is okay to make mistakes, you can either try to correct them or start again.

Try different pens


Try different pens to see which work best for you.  I have a calligraphy pen that you have to dip into the ink to use but I find it much easier to use a regular pen that has a calligraphy style tip.  This means I don't have to stop every minute to reload my ink or worry about knocking the bottle over when I am trying to work on my letter formations.    


Pen test - calligraphy pens and Stix brush markers

If you are learning calligraphy or lettering at the moment or if you have already mastered the skills do you have any hints or tips I have missed out?  Please share them with us!


Monday, 11 September 2017

Artline Monday - Christmas planning

I am sorry if you aren't feeling ready to deal with Christmas just yet but it is September and I always find my mind wondering towards Christmas planning around now.  You might be thinking "Ahhh it's ages away!" but we're already nearly down to double digits when it comes to the number of shopping days left!  I find the more I plan ahead and get things out of the way early means I have more time to relax and enjoy the season when December rolls around.


My Christmas planner, notebook and festive Artline pens

I have a special Christmas planner that I have been using for years.  It contains everything I need, from Christmas card lists, gift ideas and recipes to shopping lists and a record of our traditions.  I usually take it down from the shelf in September and have a flick through it to get me in the mood for starting my Christmas prep.  If you have a notebook or a ring binder you can make your own planner to help you stay on track of festive things each year too.  I recommend the following to help you get ready for the season ....

Declutter

Now is the perfect time to have a clear out.  If your house feels cluttered you’ll want to simplify things.  You will need room for your tree, decorations and festive nic nacs soon enough!  Start small, a room at a time, consider if you need everything.  Sort things in piles – toss, donate or keep. Organise everything that you’ve decided to keep into drawers, cupboards and wardrobes, keeping them out of sight. 

If you have children get them to sort through their toys to find things that are broken or have missing pieces, these can be thrown away.  Any toys they have outgrown or no longer want can be donated to a charity shop if they are clean and in working order.  You want to make space for the new toys, gadgets and games they will be receiving.

If you have too many books in your house (I'm not sure that anyone can have too many books but that's just me!) you can donate some to your local library if they are in good condition.

Gift ideas

Work out your budget for gifts this year and who you need to buy for.  Do you have an idea of what they would like for a present?  If not you still have plenty of time to find out, either surreptitiously or just ask them directly.  

I usually keep a notebook in my bag, if I see a gift I think someone would like I can make a note of it.  I also write down the shop it is in and the price, this means I can either find it again later when I am ready to do some Christmas shopping or I can search online and see if I can find it for a better price elsewhere.


Making lists is a great way to get organised

Shopping

If you can start some of your present shopping now it will save you some stress later on.  Ordering things online in December is a bit of a nightmare, will it be in stock?  Will it arrive on time?  Will I be home when they try to deliver?  Will it get caught up in the Christmas post backlog and disappear? Shopping now means you will have lots of time if things go wrong and you will avoid the Christmas rush.

Shopping in actual stores is a lot nicer now too, yes there's no Christmas music blaring through the speakers yet but you will avoid the queues, the hustle and bustle and panic buying.  If you don't find something today you still have time and you won't be tempted into buying something you wouldn't usually just because Christmas Day is looming and you can't face hitting the shops again!

Lastly, don't forget to cross them off your shopping list once you have purchased their gift/s.  It's quite easy to buy someone a present earlier in the year and then forget about it so you end up shopping for them twice!

Christmas cards

No, I'm not suggesting you buy, write and post your Christmas cards right now but it is easier to write them in small batches over a period of time so your handwriting stays nice and neat and you won't get cramp in your hand.  If you can buy the cards earlier (after all they will probably be in the shops just after Halloween!) you can take your time getting them done.  

Sometimes the only contact I have with some people is a Christmas card once a year so I like to make them look special.  I use metallic pens and I add some decorative tape and festive stamps and stickers to the envelopes to spread a little extra festive cheer.  If you are going to use a gold or silver pen to address your envelopes make sure it is a waterproof one like the Artline900XF or Artline999XF so the ink doesn't run in bad weather as they make their way through the postal system.


Metallic pens, tape, stamps and stickers add a touch of fun


Friends and family who live abroad

If you know anyone who lives abroad it is worth checking the last postage dates for parcels and cards before December.  Some countries need the items shipped within the first week of December to arrive on time which is cutting it fine if you haven't planned ahead.


Do you have any hints or tips for Christmas planning?  I would love to hear them! 



Friday, 1 September 2017

Artline Monday - Back to school essentials

It's nearly time for the children to go back to school, are you ready?  I have a checklist of things I need to do before the big day and I've been working my way through it over the summer holiday.  I have just completed my favourite task, choosing new stationery!  I love this time of year as nearly every shop you look in has a display of shiny new products to tempt you with!  

As a stationery fan I find my back to school stationery shopping goes like this, one for each of the kids and one for me, I deserve a treat too right?  So here is what is on my list...

Pens

Ballpoint, roller ball, fountain, everybody has their favourite type of pen to write with.  For school I like to give my children a selection of pens to use including some dual use ones, pens they can write with or use to colour in.  Artline200 are perfect for this, they come in 20 different colours and have a 0.4mm tip.  I mainly use mine for colouring in adult colouring books, the tip is great for all the small details in pictures but I tried some out in my notebook and they are lovely to write with as well.  

My back to school list and Artline pen test

Highlighters 

Artline Supreme highlighters

Highlighters are great for revision and notes when you are at school.  I remember highlighting important sections of textbooks when I was a student and looking through my notes feeling like I had done a lot of revision if they were dotted with strips of bright pink and yellow.  Now I'm an adult I still use them for highlighting information but I also use them to create headings in my notebooks and they are an easy way to make check boxes for my to do lists.

As well as pens and highlighters don't forget to add these to their pencil cases too...

  • A couple of pencils
  • A pencil sharpener
  • An eraser
  • A ruler
  • Correction fluid or tape


There are a couple of other pens I need as well, they are...

Laundry marker

Laundry marker


This one takes me back to something on my to do list, labelling uniforms and PE kits.  I hate doing this for three sets of children so I only want to do it once per school year.  A good laundry marker is the key to success, you don't want the names to fade with repeated washing and then have to write them again and again.  This year I am using the Artline750 marker which is an instant drying and waterproof pen so there's no smudges or fading! 

While you are here I have a tip for labelling PE shirts, I've always written my children's names on the care labels of their PE tops but when they are hurrying to get changed and put their kit away after lessons they don't look for the label to check they have the right shirt.  I have taken to writing their names on the inside of the collar because they are more likely to spot this and not come home with the wrong top!   


Permanent marker


Permanent marker

I also need a decent permanent marker to write my children's names on their water bottles.  These get washed or rinsed out daily so I look for an alcohol solvent based ink to withstand this.  The Artline70 marker is quick drying, water resistant and suitable for use on most surfaces including paper, cardboard, plastic, metal and glass so it should be more than up to the task!   

I don't quite have my children's school bags packed and by the door just yet but I will very soon!  Do you still have things left to do before the first day of term or are you all set?


Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Artline Monday - Getting organised as a busy mum

When I first became a mum, nearly 14 years ago, I never really had to write anything down.  I could always remember phone numbers, appointments and birthdays etc without any trouble but as time passed and we added another couple of children into the mix suddenly trying to keep track of five people's lives and schedules in my head was an impossible task.  I was completely unorganised and I hated it!  I decided I had to do something so I brought myself a planner and put my whole life in there.  It was nice to have everything I needed in one place and always to hand.  I never wanted to go back to feeling like I was overwhelmed so I used the planner daily and I have been for the past four years.

Nowadays I am pretty organised and on top of things, though there are still blips along the way, today I thought I would share some of the things I have learned to help you add a little order to your busy family life.


You don't need to buy a fancy planner to get organised, you can use a notebook,  some paper or a diary (whichever you have to hand) and a pen or two or three, I really like pens!



Notebook and Artline pens

I think some people feel daunted by the idea of planning but it isn't that hard.  You just need to get into the habit of writing things down and referring back to your notes.  Here are my tips:

Created using Artline Stix drawing pens
and brush markers

Write it down

School picture day, after school clubs, Charlie's birthday party, write them down in your notebook or diary.  Even if you have a good memory it is worth making a note of them, knowing these things have been committed to paper stops me thinking about them at 2am and saves me stress and brain space.  

Depending on how busy you are, how old your children are and how many of them you have it might be a good idea to have a page or two dedicated to their activities and social lives.  My eleven year old could fill a page on her own with her drama club, choir practice, football practice, ice skating and shopping with friends... the list goes on and on.  All you have to remember is to check each section you create when you are looking through your notes and reminders.

I'm a very visual person so I love adding a splash of colour to my pages and using different coloured pens to highlight information helps me see what I need to know quickly when I look at my notes.

Make plans

There are a couple of plans I am talking about today, the first is to plan out your week or month so you can see what things you have on and what you need to do.  For example a dental appointment on the 5th, buy an anniversary card and gift before the 18th for mum and dad, pay the phone bill on the 22nd... I usually give myself a double page spread for each month and I write down any events and appointments on the one page and use the second for my to do lists and goals.

Goals are my second type of plans, what do you want to do and how can you achieve it?  Maybe deep cleaning your house sounds like a massive task which puts you off starting?  I know I would rather sit down with a cup of tea and a biscuit instead of saying to myself "Today I am going to clean the whole house"!  But if I break the whole house down into rooms it feels less scary and if I break down what I have to do in each room into simple tasks like put things away, dust, polish and vacuum it feels much more manageable.  I'd create a to do list for each room and then add the things that need to be done.  Small steps feel easier to complete and you can break down most goals this way if you take the time to think about them.  Then you just have to write them down and tick them off.

Be prepared

There is a reason this is the Scouts motto!  If you know you are going to be having a busy day or week try to be prepared for it and get everything you can out of the way early.  All of my children are in school now so mornings are especially crazy in our house.  My husband is usually out of the door before the kids are awake so I am on my own trying to wake, feed and nag them into getting ready for school so no one is late.  I find it easier to sort out everything before I go to bed the night before, I leave three bowls and spoons out on the draining board, I put water bottles and snacks into their bags which I leave by the front door with their shoes and coats.  Then there are book bags, homework and PE kits to be added depending on what day it is and yes, I have these days written down in my planner so I don't forget.  Doing these things in the evening only takes me a few minutes but it saves me so much time the next morning!

Routines

Setting yourself a daily or weekly routine is a really great way to keep organised.  If you are a stay at home mum or a working mum it is really handy to plan your days and see what time you have and when you can get things done.  I'm not saying you should schedule your days down to the minute but doing certain tasks on the same day each week makes them second nature and helps you stay on top of things.  I know that I do my online food shop on a Wednesday and that the car needs filling up every Thursday too but I still write this down just in case my brain gets distracted by something else and doesn't remind me!  

I have tasks I do daily after the school run, the first is to put the kettle on and then while it boils I quickly wipe down the surfaces in my kitchen .  Once my brew is ready I sit down and check my online banking and pay any bills that are due. After that it's time to put the laundry in and then I can check my emails and start my work... you get the idea.    

I only stick to my routine Monday through to Friday though.  During the weekends I just like to go with the flow and enjoy spending time together as a family and after we have been at school and work all week none of us wants to have to adhere to a timetable on Saturday and Sunday too. 

So, have I tempted you to pick up a pen and start planning?  There really is something very satisfying about crossing things off your list or marking them as done with a big tick!  I also get to let my little artistic side out when I'm making notes as I usually add some doodles or try my hand at different fonts and lettering styles, if I'm going to have to keep looking at my pages each day I want them to be fun.

I hope you found my tips useful!  

If you are a fellow pen addict and like the look of my Artline pens you can check out their products here.  They are also on Facebook and Twitter if you want to give them a like or follow.  I have to say I am a big fan of their calligraphy pens, I have been practising with them recently but I will save that for another post.

Thanks for stopping by!


Friday, 25 August 2017

Planner Friday - August

It's Planner Friday again over on the Trendy Twine blog and I'm getting very, very excited about autumn!  Pop over and tell me if you are just as excited or if you are still loving summer.

Okay, I know it is still August but I always plan ahead so in my mind we're already part way through September.  I'm sorry if you are trying to squeeze out the last few days of summer because I am totally ready for autumn!  Cooler days, warm drinks, sweaters and boots, bring it on!  I wanted to record my joy for the impending season so I have broken out my APB stamps and Travellers Notebook.






Used but not pictured: Kraft Tag
Trendy Twine
Coffee planner clip

I think spring and autumn are my favourite seasons because they are the ones you can easily see nature changing around you.  As much as I love to see the first shoots of green in spring, spotting the leaves changing colours and feeling a little chill in the air always makes me so happy!

If you feel the same way then Hello Fall is the perfect stamp set for you (and if you're quick you can grab them while they are on sale!).  I had so much fun creating this spread and colouring in the cute fall images.  There is also a Thankful stamp in the set so I decided to write a list of what I am thankful for.  I've never tried a pumpkin spiced latte but I am addicted to black cherry hot chocolate, there's nothing nicer than your favourite hot drink on a cold day so I used the takeaway coffee stamp from the Drinks & More set to represent this.  I also love spending time with my family and friends in autumn when the weather is cooler but you can still enjoy being outdoors, I used a few of the Documenting The Everyday #2 stamps for this.





My September spread -  Hello fall!


You can read the rest of my post here.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Blippo Surprise Kawaii Stationery Bag review and giveaway!

If you love kawaii things as much as me be prepared to swoon over this Surprise Kawaii Stationery Bag I was sent by the awesome people behind Kawaii Box and Japan Candy Box!  

Unlike the Kawaii Boxes and Japan Candy Boxes I have reviewed before, these goodie bags are not a subscription service so you can treat yourself if and whenever the mood takes you.  Items are selected randomly from the kawaii warehouse and you receive at least 15 super cute stationery items in a sweet drawstring bag.  I'm picturing the warehouse as some kind of pastel pink wonderland where bunnies hop around gathering your stationery bits and pieces who then hand them off to some other adorable woodland creature who packs and ships your order, if I am wrong please don't correct me!

Okay, are you ready to see what was inside my bag?

Surprise Kawaii Stationery Bag

By a stroke of luck my bag has a few cat and Hello Kitty products which I love, I think the bookmarks are my favourite out of everything I received!  There is also a set of pencils with lids, a sharpener and eraser, a pack of highlighters, five sheets of stickers, a ghost family gel pen, a set of deco tapes, carrot shaped erasers, sticky notes and a holographic card. 

So much cuteness!

Exclusive Blippo bag filled with stationery

Sweet stickers and cat bookmarks

The bags cost around £12.80 (depending on the exchange rate) and shipping is free to most countries including the UK, Europe and the USA which is fantastic!

If you like what you see and want to order a bag right now here is the link for it or if you are feeling lucky follow the steps in the gadget below to try and win one in my giveaway.  The more actions you complete the more entries you will have in the draw!

She's Eclectic Blippo Giveaway

Good luck!


Friday, 21 July 2017

Planner Friday - July

My latest Planner Friday post is now up on the Trendy Twine blog, please pop over and check it out...

Hello!  Welcome to Planner Friday!  I know for some of you the summer holidays began a while ago but here in the UK the schools don't finish until this afternoon and I really can't wait!  I wanted to do a tropical theme in my planner to celebrate the start of lazy days and endless sunshine (fingers crossed!) so let me show you what I used and how it turned out.


Products used:

Used but not pictured:

As always I started out with some washi tape and Trendy page dots to give my pages a splash of colour and then got out my collection of planner stamps to fill in my to do lists and reminders.  


My Planner Friday to do list

I also made myself a little Planner Friday card to keep track of what I needed to do for today's post and added a bit of Trendy bakers twine just because it's such a pretty colour!

You can read the rest of my post here.

Thanks for stopping by!