Saturday, 28 February 2015

TWSBI Diamond 540

A zillion years ago, my very good friend Gerard sent me a lovely pen - a TWSBI Diamond 540 with a 1.1mm stub nib. After I got the Eau de Nil ink I thought I would (finally!) give the TWSBI a whirl.

The nib has more rounded edges than my Parker italic nibs (my 'go to' nib) and in many ways is more akin to the Lamy Joy calligraphy nib (a.k.a. the Lamy Joyless to me... see here for why!).

Clockwise from L: TWSBI, Parker italic, Lamy Joy(less)
TWSBI on left; Lamy Joy(less) on right
I absolutely LOVE the TWSBI and Eau de Nil combination!

The ink shading is especially nice.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Lovely things from The Lovely Desk

[no affiliation - just wanting to share a great company and their lovely products!]

Lovely haul from The Lovely Desk

Last week I posted about getting some gorgeous washi tape from The Lovely Desk and said that I may (i.e. HAD) put in another order from them.

Well, it arrived yesterday morning, beautifully wrapped in tissue paper and with a little note saying thank you. It couldn't have arrived on a better day as I had a bit of a shocker of a day on Monday, so some new stationery was definitely what the doctor ordered!

So, what did I order?

Some small diary stickers, with largely a food/tea/cakes theme; some decoration tape (again with a cake and tea and biscuits theme); some wide washi (28mm) with a variety of things on it, but again a bit of a tea theme and some washi tape with some cute cartoon animals on.

[pictures from The Lovely Desk website are all reproduced with permission; click on any image to enlarge]

So, here they are in detail:

1. The diary stickers

Image from The Lovely Desk, with permission
I have difficulty over decorating my diary in that I love to see decorated pages but when I do them myself they look too cluttered/messy and I can't see the wood for the trees. However, these little stickers are lovely and very small (most of them are less than 1cm in even the longest dimension). There are several of each design and quite a few different designs. I'm not sure how I will use 5 frying pan stickers (or 6 sauce bottles for that matter) but most of them will be useful and small enough to add a little bit of decoration to the diary without being bigger than the writing for the event.

2.The decoration tape

Image from The Lovely Desk, with permission
Image from The Lovely Desk, with permission

As you'll see in the post on washi tape, I have used narrow washi tape to separate off the memo space on my diary pages from the days. The decoration tape will do something very similar (as depicted below) or could be used to note meeting a friend for a tea/coffee in the diary (instead of using a sticker). The tape comes on a roller, like the roll-on correction tape (Tippex on a tape). There is a covering cap and it takes a bit of bravery to bend it back on itself to reveal the tape and pop the cover into the space in the casing for the cover but it does fold back okay (without snapping off) and does slot into the space!

Decoration tape used to separate off a section in my filofax

Plastic cover protecting the tape

Plastic cover folded back into its space

3. Tea time washi tape

Image from The Lovely Desk, with permission

This washi tape is absolutely delightful! I will use it to decorate letters to friends (it's a bit big for my filofax pages...). The designs are fabulous!

All of the designs on the tape

4. The cartoon animals washi tape

Image from The Lovely Desk, with permission

Again, these designs are just gorgeous and again, they will probably get used in letters to friends (we all know that I am in that rare breed of people who send hand-written letters!). Here is a picture of all of the designs on the tape:

Fantastic little animals on the tape

I'm not sure if my favourite is the giraffe or the cat. They are all wonderful! The donkey reminds me a bit of a tiny embroidery of a donkey on the Bayeaux Tapestry!

Anyway, that was my haul from The Lovely Desk. Jessica also popped a couple of other things in the parcel (as you can see in the picture at the top) - a couple of post-it note samples and some other washi tape samples on small labels.

As I say, no affiliation - I bought all of these for myself and have not been asked to do this blog post - but I always like to share new finds and excellent companies! If you have not yet checked them out, go and have a look now. You can find them at: The Lovely Desk.

Anyone else got some good finds to share?

New Inks

Well, relatively new inks. I got them a while ago and haven't posted about them!
Click on any image to enlarge.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Journalling and Mindfulness: cost-benefit?

Back in November when my mental health imploded and took out my physical health in the process, I was assigned to some counselling sessions which concentrated on using mindfulness to help me repair myself and develop resilience to the issues that had caused the burn-out in the first place. I have practised mindfulness in the past, but to be honest, my major way of decompressing was to run. If I needed to chew over things I would run long and steady; if I needed to get stress out of my system I would run short and fast or run intervals; if I was just generally wound up, I would run tempo for as long as I could and meditate while I was doing it. I was actually very good at mindful running.

Running is not possible with an untreated arrhythmia.

Hence, I started practising mindfulness (on a more stationary basis than I had in the past), but I felt as if it was a bit of a waste of time - that my brain was a box of frogs and that the time spent trying to focus on my breathing etc. was just time spent getting more frustrated at the fact that my mind was a box of frogs.

But, I persevered and tried to incorporate small acts of mindfulness into my day. The counsellor had suggested the 8-week course that is outlined in a book by Mark Williams but I still have not got past the first week of that, finding it nigh on impossible to manage to do the 8-minute initial mindful meditation, twice a day, for a week. Instead, I have managed to do some meditation at least once every day. At one point I was managing more (and could probably have re-started with the Mark Williams course) but more usually it is just once a day.

Is it helping?

Well, I'm still not back at work and I sense that the major test of whether it is helping on the resilience side will come when I do return, but I think it is helping me to rebuild my mental health.

I have found that in the morning, my brain is all over the place and meditating/practising mindfulness is largely what my counsellor would have described as 'practising frustration'! But with a small tweak (which is quite possibly just a large cheat) I am making it work better for me.

To try and help clear my head (and reduce the box of frogs feeling), I am combining the mindfulness/meditation with journalling. It can be either 'morning pages' or just a timed brain-dump: 15 minutes of getting things out of my head and onto paper. Sometimes I then convert part of that brain-dump into a to do list. Often I just ignore everything I have written - it was the writing of it that was helpful as it allowed me to process things and move on.

Once I have done that, meditation/mindfulness is a lot easier and has frequently allowed me to feel more productive afterwards - that the clutter in my head has been tidied away and there is now space to allow my thoughts to flow freely. The morning pages help to tame the box of frogs; the meditation then lets my brain rest and be quiet; after that, thoughts can flow well.

Doing the morning pages may well be a big cheat. I do realise that. I do realise that maybe I should be taming the box of frogs with meditation, but at the moment I just can't. I try to meditate and I just get frustrated. At least this way, I get my head clear and then rested.

So, cost-benefit analysis? Are those 30 or so minutes time well spent? I think so. I think that the unscrambling then meditating is helping me get through the burn-out and back to 'me'. I hope that I am also building resilience ready for when I return to work and that any return will not be curtailed by another implosion.

And of course, I'm getting to use some lovely notebooks and delightful pens in the process...

How do others decompress??

Saturday, 21 February 2015


I have a problem.

Well, I have LOTS of problems, but the one I'm wittering on about today is this: I love washi tape but, I find decorating my diary pages with it troublesome because it clutters the page up too much for me.

I love seeing pictures of other people's highly decorated diary pages and have thought in the past how great it would be to do the same and then after a week of it I think, "I can't see the wood for the trees" and stop.

I solved the dilemma a bit with the diary inserts I used last year, by putting just a bit of washi tape on the top corner to indicate different months - it was enough to make the pages a bit more colourful but it was tucked away enough for me to see the diary. However, this year's diary inserts don't have the same kind of space at the top (I'm using the Davinci Tomoe River ones... see here for details) so they have stayed undecorated.

Until now...

I spotted some really skinny washi tape on eBay at thelovelydesk (no affiliation, just letting you know where I got it all from; also check out their website - link in the list of places to shop on the right here).
[click to enlarge the pictures]
Two sets of skinny washi (6mm width)
Both of these sets are metallic

Why did I want such skinny tape? Well, the diary pages I'm using have eight equally-sized spaces - Monday to Sunday and then a box labelled 'memo' which doesn't stand out enough, so I am using the skinny washi tape to put a patterned line between the end of the Sunday space and the memo space, both to emphasise the memo box and to add just a touch of pattern. Much wider than 6mm and it would have taken up too much space.

Ta da!!

Three examples with the washi tape separating off the memo box

What do you think??

[Oh, I also bought some humongously wide tape with recipes on, but that's not for the diary, that's just to put on letters to friends but I thought I would share anyway.

recipe washi!
(the width is the width of one recipe)

And having discovered their website, I may possibly have just ordered a load more stuff.

Moving along...]