Sunday, 1 August 2010

Small Things 27 July 2010

Okay it's taken me a few days but here are the small things I saw on Tuesday that I liked

I was at the station waiting on my train when this industrial train swept past.  Good to see the railway being used for transportation of more than just people.

And walking back home on the same road I'd walked down hours before I spotted this large mushroom in someone's garden.  I do love mushrooms and the weather seems to have encouraged them at the moment.

So it was just another rat race of a day and yet in amongst those days if we look hard enough are good things.  Small things that make us smile or make us think.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

The Small Things:Pencil Shavings

It struck me as a bit of a coincidence that @derwentpencils has been tweeting about pencil shavings today. Not only did they link to this unusual piece of jewellery

But they started a competition to send in a picture of the longest pencil shaving you could do

Why was this spooky? Simply because I had been sharpening a pencil this morning. Not that unusual you may be thinking, but it is for me. I almost exclusively use mechanical pencils because I like a sharp point. But a combination of factors had come together. Well two. I had come across a Tintin pencil sharpener while tidying my study and the first pencil my hand came across this morning was a freebie Field Notes pencil, which of course needed sharpened before I could use it.

It was at this point I realised what a pleasure sharpening a pencil was. I had forgotten the physical feeling of turning the pencil, the noise, the swirl of shaved wood. Now this doesn't mean I shall give up on mechanical pencils to start a pencil sharpening frenzy in my life. It does make me think a bit more about the simple things in life. The things that we don't take time to think about or if we notice them don't capture the feeling. It's probably impossible to pay attention to the small things all the time but perhaps choosing a day to consciously notice the small things would be enriching, in a small way. I must try that.
I took some photos today of the simple things I came across that pleased me and shall post them tomorrow

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Travel Journal by K Two Products

At Christmas i was lucky enough to get two stationery themed presents.  A travel Journal and Travel clippigs file, both made by K Two Products.  I now know the items came from my friends (Twitter ones, not real ones) at The Paperie who always provide great service.
I shall look at the Travel Journal first.  I've now started using this as camping season has begun and I like to record my travels throughout the year so that we can look back and enjoy on dark Winter nights.  I dont exclusively record VW van trips though.  We've recently found out that many hotels now allow dogs which allows us trips away with the 'old dears' who arent going camping anywhere.
The journal itself is pocket sized, bigger than a Moleskine pocket though (A6 size) with a smooth cover that looks like it might resist a splash of rain or spilled wine, whichever is more common on your travels.
The picture on the cover looks like an old fashioned rail advertising poster and looks like the Swiss Alps or somewhere like that.  The impression certainly is of travel abroad and adventure.  We can get plenty of that at home in a Vdub thank you!
I've usually used larger journals for travel and may still use a separate one for a long trip.  For example we plan to go to Europe in the van againe this year and that would probably warrant a journal all of it's own - good excuse to buy another one.  The journal is kept shut by an elastic band (like one to hold your hair back).  It's fastened on the back cover and fits lengthwise round the journal.

So what's inside the Travel Notes book then?  Well there are 3 lined pages with a space for date and location at the top and every fourth page is plain for drawings, sticking in photographs, mementos or similar.  It's the same 'loop the loop, Air Crash Investigations' style plane on these pages.  There is also a section at the back for contacts, where I guess you could put either details of those you want to send cards and emails to on your trip or of the places you intend to stay or visit on your trip, or both of course.
Again this might be more useful on a longer trip than the short weekends that I intend to be recording but I may pop in the details of were we've stayed at some point.After the contacts section is one that is lined and headed notes.  You could put anything you liked in that section.  The pictures dont quite show it properly but the journal section is cream/buff coloured paper, the contacts section is pink coloured paper and the notes section is blue coloured paper.  The paper itself is smooth and quite thick.  I'm not sure of the weight but it's bordering on thin card I would say.  I've only written on it in ballpoint but I think it would stand up to most types of pen without bleeding or showing through to the other side.
What I've decided to do with the plain pages is use a Polaroid Pogo printer for photographs.  This is a small printer that prints 2"x3" photos that have a sticky backing so you can stick them straight into the journal.  The printer is pocket sized too so you can use it on your travels.  You can Bluetooth prints from your phone or use Pictbridge technology and connect your camera to it. The print paper comes in packets of 10 and you can buy 30 or 70 at a time.  Yes it's not the cheapest way to print anything but it is fun.  The quality of the prints depends on what you've taken the picture with (perhaps not surprisingly).  The prints from my Nikon Coolpix S6 are miles better than the ones from my phone but it all adds to the effect of recording the trip as you go along. 
Finally the notebook has the now, almost obligatory pocket at the back.  It's really just a small pocket that you can slip receipts or small cards into but still handy enough.  I like this Travel Notes journal.  It's small enough to pop in your bag but large enough to stick in photos and write in comfortably.  I'm not sure however if it will last the whole season.  We shall see...

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Tracking Weight with Field Notes

I thought I would share one of my uses for a notebook for a change rather than a simple review of the notebook.  Many uses are work related and it's not always possible to put those on a blog but tracking my weight is totally personal.  Maybe the sort of thing I shouldn't share on a blog but here goes.
One of the key elements of trying to maintain a healthy weight is keeping track of what you eat.  I find myself falling into a hybernation state every Winter and filling up with food, then having to retrain my habits in the Spring.  This year is no exception.  So if I am going to cut down food intake I may as well combine it with something I like doing-writing in a notebook.

I have been using the Field Notes Summer color edition.  The green one in other words.  The grid lends itself to recording information I feel and I have been pretty good at keeping up the daily food record.  If not so good at recording exercise, mainly because I am very good at eating every day but often miss out exercise!
It pays not to kid yourself on and be as honest as possible when recording what you eat and until you count calories it can be a real surprise what a difference small changes can make.  Changing from pouring olive oil in a pan to using spray oil, not spreading on loads of butter, not eating ready meals!!!
So I have been progressing and these photos were taken a few weeks ago.

I know it looks kind of innaccurate but I do count my checks carefully!  I use Scottish Slimmers which uses 1 check to represent 25kcal.  I guess it just makes counting easier and of course how many checks you can have depends on your weight.  I dont have too much to lose and I'm not massively overweight but I still find it hard going sometimes.

As a motivation I draw a graph of my weight loss - well the Field Notes does have graph paper, seems a shame not to use it!  It is now the beginning of April and I have now lost a stone, so the graph looks rather good.  I'm now 9st10lbs.  I may try to get to 9st7lbs but I wont lose sleep over it and I've just had a weeks holiday and another one coming up, and while I try not to go mad I dont want to get totally hung up on food either so I will eat more than usual if I want to.  There are a few non weight loss weeks along the way and the trick is to expect them and not let that distract you from your journey.  I now only have two pages left in my notebook and will probably try to keep recording what I eat to try to keep things stable.  Camping season is ahead and I tend to have a couple of beers and BBQ at weekends so need to keep on the right track during the week.  However hopefully I shall also do a bit more exercise too which should get my metabolism going....
So now the dilemma is do I use another green Field Notes or one of my new sunshine yellow ones that I have just bought?  Oh it's difficult but the yellow cover is fabulous.  I think I know the answer.....

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Notebook Have a Look - teNeues CoolNotes

I decided to buy one of these notebooks while on Twitter.  Papernation, the Bristol based stationery store and tweeterpal had linked to these new notebooks.  I immediately loved the look of them, particularly the notebooks with contrasting ribbon and inside cover colours.  They come in a range of colours and some, like the one I purchased have patterned inside covers.  This one is argyle pattern but they have stripes and also plain colours inside.  I'd had a couple of glasses of wine, so instead of my usual looking at notebooks again and again for weeks and months (because I do not need a notebook), I bought this straight away.  I purchased the pocket size which is priced at £5.99 and is 9cm x 13cm.  For non Europeans that's about 31/2 x 5 inches.  As you can see by the picture with the CoolNotes placed on top of a pocket Moleskine, it is a bit shorter.  You can feel this difference when you hold the notebook in your hand and I really quite like the size.  I imagine it might feel a bit too small for a large handed man but for a short fingered female like me it is fine.  Still on the size topic, the down side for some might be that a 3"x5" index card will not fit in the back pocket of the notebook.There are 192 pages.  I dont know the exact weight of paper but feels 80 or 90gms.  Smooth and cream in colour.  I haven't written in it yet but looks like it might handle better than dread Molseskine paper.  What is unusual is that the left hand page is plain and the right hand page is lined.  If you click on the picture of the pages I hope that you can just see this.  The lines are actually made up of dots so they are not intrusive.  I'm not sure what I needed one plain page and one lined page for but i knew I did need this combo.  Unquestionable need for it.  Papernation have a link from their blog to this notebook where they use it as a business card holder.  I didnt immediately get it till I had the notebook in my hand.  Paste the business card in the blank page and write some details on the lined page.  It makes perfect sense.  You could do similar when travelling and pick up hotel/accomodation /restaraunt business cards and paste them in with a brief review or some notes about each place. 
So as usual i haven't quite decided how to use this.  I could just use it for notes and not let the plain/lined combo limit me.  After all it might be good to have sometimes but I can write in a straight line on plain paper too so shouldn't stop me using it.
The notebooks also come in A5 size which is a size I really like for work so who knows I might try that once my Woodstock Moleskine is finished.  They are £8.99 so certainly a cheaper option than a large Moleskine.  Postage from Papernation is £3.95 which i fieel is a bit steep but this is automatically reduced to £2.50 for low weight items.  The notebook arrived in superb time, I ordered on a weekend it arrived on the Tuesday I think. Couldn't be happier with their service and because they do engage on Twitter properly, not just like some companies who appear to advertise and then vanish, you feel that you know who you're dealing with.  I think there's a few of you out there who would like these aptly named CoolNotes.

January Creative Challenges

Thanks to a link from Twitter pal diysara I came across this site: Daisy Yellow.  It is a site full of creations and creative ideas.  One of the regular blog entries sets monthly creative challenges.  I liked this idea because we all need something to aim for or a bit of motivation or just a reason to take 15 minutes for ourselves.  All the challenges are attainable and you can pick as few or as many as you like.
I chose to try these challenges
  • Read a book just for you
  • Alter a recipe you frequently make
  • Write down a quote and share it with a friend
How did I do?  Well I've started to read a book.  The Modern History of great Britain by Andrew Marr.  I dont know much about politics or the things that have shaped our country and Andrew Marr is a good storyteller.  The trouble is it's quite a big book and so I'm often put off carrying it to work on the train.  So that has held me back.  Lesson learned: choose smaller books.

This month I have been trying out a few new recipes and playing about with some I've used for a while so I wont bore you with these but I have been sometimes pleased, sometimes disappointed with my efforts.  I haven't had to throw anything straight in the bin though, so I count that as a success.

The quote I chose to share came about because I bought a self inking stamp for £2.99 in LIDL.  You can make your own words and phrases from letters provided in the pack.  I chose
'All those who wander are not lost'  Words from JRR Tolkein.  I popped the letters into the stamp to make this phrase.  It took a couple of attempts because I'm not so good at spelling backwards and mistook Q for O on account of my fortysomething eyesight.  I stamped it on a card and drew a wee tree beside it.  Well my friend loved it.  It does suit her as you might think she is a bit lost but she does love to wander.  She's now added it to her signatures on the forums she uses.  I've been amazed at how pleased I was about the success of something so simple.  I've picked February's challemges but it's a short month so I'd better get a push on it.
Thanks Daisy Yellow....

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Groundhog day

I feel I cant let Groundhog Day go by without comment.  Mainly because the film of the same name is one of my favourites.  Odd perhaps to watch a film about reliving the same day over and over again, over and over again.  Yet I have.  And of course while the tradition relates to whether or not Punxsatawny Phil sees his shadow or not and then whether there are 6 more weeks of winter or an early spring the film has influenced our view of the whole thing.

I have to admit to not being greatly optimistic about an early spring as the snow fell this morning in Glasgow.  I'm hopeful I wont relive the same day over and over again.  Not that it was that bad but it certainly wasn't that good.  But perhaps we should always try to do something different every day.  No matter how small the difference.  It's too easy to get into a rut and forget to enjoy life.  What did I do different today?  I chased my daft dog round the house while it ran about with a toy, always ten steps ahead.  I did say it didn't have to be a big difference.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Review - Quo Vadis IB Traveler

Just before Christmas I received this Quo Vadis IB traveler from Karen at Exaclair (thank you once again-what does the IB stand for?).  In 2009 I used a Moleskine Pocket Monthly and was pleasantly susprised by how much I used it and enjoyed using it.  I wrote a couple of blog entries on the topic.  So I have to admit to being a bit nervous about changing my planner again.  The diary is a week on two pages and while I would say it is handbag size it's not really pocket sized.  At 9cm x 17cm it's just too long for most pockets.  Perhaps a gent's inside pocket?  In fact it does remind me of the diaries my father used to use when he worked but inside there is room for a bit more detail than he had.  That perhaps initially coloured my response in that these days if it isn't Moleskine pocket sized it isn't cool enough, however I think I'm over that. 
The appointment section is on the left hand side of the diary and has Monday to Saturday listed.  There is time slots and I've certainly found enough space for my appointments and venues to fit in.  I rarely have appointments less than 2 hours though and that helps.  I do have to be in different places on different days so in order to plan my week I like to see the week ahead and even the month in one view.  The month view in this is not as good as Moleskine but then that was the whole point of a monthly view diary.  I am able to colour code the days in the month view so that I know what area I will be in which may prove enough for me.
The right hand page has sections for Week's Priority, Phone, Fax/Email, See-Do, Notes and Sunday is there too.  In the past I've liked putting date specific actions in my diary but couldn't really do this with the Moleskine montly but can with the traveler.  The paper is pure white (not all my pictures show the true colour) and is 64g.  You can imagine that it wont cope with some pens and there will be some show through but I only use pencil in my diary so that doesn't bother me at all.  I assume that heavier paper would result in a thicker diary and as this is aimed at being small and portable there has to be some compromise.  I do find the places for notes, to do etc opposite each week quite useful so far.  Obviously you're always going to have occasions where you have a longer to phone list than space allows but I would just use the right hand page less rigidly I think.  It also comes with a removable address/phone book but I just removed that as I keep all my numbers in my phone.  Handy to write your contacts out once and take them with you to the next year's diary though.  It also has maps in it.  Now I know it's called the traveller but I cant really see any use for these maps.  The scale just shows you nothing and so if you needed these maps I'd question whether you should be travelling in the first place....

So overall I'm quite pleased with the IB traveler and although I'm still getting used to it I think I shall be happy to use it throughout the year.  I'll post again towards the end of the year to let you know how I'm getting on with it.

Friday, 15 January 2010


Sweets are what Britain does best.  Without a doubt.  One of the presents I was given at the New Year's table (yes we get presents!) this year was a box of mint Poppets (not expensive presents).  I'm not so mad on mint sweets that I would buy them but all 174 calories went down well....

This was done, once again with Berol Fine Felt tip pens.  They are inexpensive and work well for me.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Please don't sue me...

Today's sketch is simply a word.  Flickr.  Well actually it's not really a word is it?  There's a vowel missing at best.  Anyway, this is drawn with pencil then Berol Fine Felt tip pens.  I was a bit impatient to rub out the pencil lines and caused a smudge, so I just decided it might look better with an 'all over smudge'  The colurs aren't accurate and I await Flickr's lawyer's email telling me to remove the drawing....

Monday, 11 January 2010

Quo Vadis Habana Journal

Back on the 24th November I gave my first impressions of the Quo Vadis Habana notebook kindly given to me by Karen at Exaclair. At the time I said it seemed to good to write in and it has continued to be a problem.  The answer was the Field Notes Giveaway that has just finished where I asked for people to send in quotes with the winner getting the quote written on the first page.  A good way to get me started.  So having picked the winner yesterday I wrote the quote in today and thought you might like to see it.  I wrote it with a Lamy Safari and hopefully if you click on the photo you will see in detail just how lovely Clairefontaine paper is to write on.  It is so smooth and holds the ink brilliantly.  There is no show through on the other side.  I tried taking a picture but there was nothing for the camera to focus on!

So thank you all for your quotes, thank you Jocelyn for the Mark Twain quote (Field Notes notebook is in an envelope ready to go) and thank you Quo Vadis for the gorgeous notebook.  I shall now strut about with my notebook in my bag, bring it out in cafes and on the train and be so full of my own self importance that even Scotrail's service wont grind me down.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Field Notes Giveaway Winner!!!!!!

Thank you to everyone who took the time to come by and leave a quote.  I didnt even have to invent people to make comments!  This was much harder than just picking a number at random but more interesting too.  I found all the quotes worthwhile reading and they may inspire me to get out my calligraphy pens and use the ones sent in for a wee series of blog entries.
However the quote that I will write in my new Quo Vadis Habana notebook is from Jocelyn who gave me the quote..
"Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." -Mark Twain

It is a quote that just clicks for me.  I'm prone to being careful, to not dreaming wildly or exploring.  And of course I mean all this, as I guess Mark Twain also meant, not about travelling but in everything we do.
So Jocelyn a Field Notes notebook will be sent to you once I know where to send it.  As I see you have an email address on your profile I'll email directly for you to reply to me but alternatively you can DM me (Superpooky) on Twitter if you'd prefer by 12th.  Congratulations and thanks to everyone who took the time to comment, I'm keeping all the quotes!

Friday, 8 January 2010

Pen purchase

Bought Uni Pin fine line pen today. Drew my other purchase wi... on Twitpic

I bought a couple of new pens today so that I can go sketch mad....
The Uni Pin 0.5 Fine Line  in  black which has water and fade proof pigment ink.  A very stylish drawing pen.  I then decided to use it to draw my other purchase, a Zig Artist Sketching Pen in Sepia.  Dont know why I'm taking such a notion for sepia pens just now.  I'm looking forward to using them both some more.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

New Year, New Creations

So far I've been quite focussed on stationery but I keep saying to myself that this year I shall be more creative, return to watercolour painting do more photography.  I improved a bit last year but hopefully I can do more in 2010.  So far the best thing I've come across to help me is the blog Daisy Yellow that sets challenges for each month and recognises creativeness in it's broadest sense.  Perfect for me as I'm not greatly talented in any creative area but like to play about a bit!  I also must thank diysara for providing the link to this site on her Twitter.

So as a result of this I made soup using a different ingredient to normal (I hadn't thought of soup making as being creative) and did a wee sketch while waiting on the soup to be ready.  I can't let you taste the soup but you can see the sketch.  I used a Pilot V5 Hi-techpoint and (forgetting the ink wasn't permanent) I then used Daler Rowney watersoluble Artist's Pencils and a Pentel waterbrush to add some colour.  Because this made the black ink run I kind of wished I'd used Berol Felt Tip pens to add colour but I do like my Oxo cube. So all in all a very creative lunch break.  I may add the odd sketch in if i keep this up.  I hope I do as I enjoyed doing it and realised the end result isn't going up on the wall so it's okay no matter what it turns out like.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Rhodia Stapled Notepad Pimped

I was recently inspired by the blog Drawing with a Squirrel to pop a bit of a sketch on my No13 Rhodia stapled notepad.  Now clearly I'm not that great at drawing so incase you can't work it out it's a picture of a VW T25 campervan.  You'll see if you ever pop onto my FlickR account that VDubs feature strongly in my life.  Well more so the camping aspect, where you can get away from it all in comfort, and have the added excitement of never quite knowing if you'll make it to your destination! So here is my 'Pimp My Write' version of Rhodia art...