28 Aug 2011

review / / ARWEY notebook part II

Here is part II as promised - a review of the Reich notebook. As said previously, I got this one in blue.

The cover - which is also removable:

The colour in the picture is accurate in the colour of the notebook.

For all you Filofax lovers, there is card slot in the inner cover. But it's only one slot - so maybe if you're going to work and don't want to bring your whole purse, you can just bring one credit or debit card instead.

Reich, unlike the Flavin, has plain pages. This makes it ideal for sketching or just jotting things down randomly. The paper is the same as the Flavin with its 70GSM ivory paper.

Anyway, continuing with the cover. There is a page marker of the very creative kind:

I love that the page marker for this notebook is like this instead of the typical ribbon. And this is the other side of the back page of the notebook.

As you can see, there is a pocket, not dissimilar to the Flavin notebook.

Also included with this notebook is a writing guide with a side that is dotted, two that are ruled (one wide and one narrow) and a side that is squared.

Finally, the paper quality. It's literally the same as the Flavin notebook, but here it is anyway for comparison. I used the narrow ruled writing guide to write with each of the pen types.

Reich comes with the same information and back pages as Flavin too.

In terms of value for money, I honestly think that this notebook is better than a Moleskine and is also cheaper at $13.50 which rougly equates to £8.30.

Honestly speaking, I love Reich more than I love Flavin. The page marker is fantastic and innovative - I've not seen anything like it - and the colour of the notebook is vibrant but not hideously so. The paper quality is good, though I would have preferred it if it were 80GSM instead but it works and that's what matters. 

It's also important to note that Arwey do notebook sets too and in brilliantly fashionable colour schemes too. From what I can see, it looks like you can order custom ones made with the colours you would like - and if this is the case, I'm definitely thinking of putting in an order for a notebook set (Rebecca said the 2011 ones are out soon!) in colours that take my fancy. At the moment, however, there don't appear to be any sets with Reich in but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that when the new 2011 sets are released, there will be at least one with Reich in!

If you'd like to know more, Arwey are also on Twitter and Facebook and here is the product video for Reich if you'd like to see more.

Also, with my minimalism and money saving project about to begin, I'm beginning to think of ways to save parts of my weekly budget in order to place an order for a few of these notebooks in about two and a half months' time! But then again, the design of these notebooks are pretty much the definition of 'minimalism' so maybe that's half of my challenge accomplished?

Finally, I just want to say a big thank you to the lovely Rebecca at Arwey for sending me these lovely notebooks to review. I'm thoroughly impressed and definitely think that they are worth their marked prices.

Now, if only Arwey also did dated diaries.... 

REMEMBER: Enter PAPERLOVESTORY at the checkout to get 15% off your order (no minimum spend) but get in there quick - this code runs out tomorrow night (Monday the 29th of August).

26 Aug 2011

review / / ARWEY notebooks part I


Now, most of you should know this by now - I'm a sucker for fashion but I'm also a sucker for beautiful, high quality notebooks and stationery. So, when the lovely Rebecca brought Arwey to my attention, I was instantly drawn into the notebooks in fashionable colours and their simple design. I'm not sure how many of you have heard of Arwey but they are a notebook brand that has 'a range which blends function with style' and have  'notebooks [that] are designed to be practical and useful as well as good looking'. And boy, I was not  disappointed with this description when the notebooks arrived.

Rebecca kindly sent me two notebooks from their range - Reich in blue and Flavin in green.

But before I launch into the review of the first notebook (I'll start with Flavin), I just want to say something about the service. The notebooks were despatched yesterday (from Istanbul in Turkey) and they arrived this morning! Very, very, impressive as I had expected a few days at the very least.

Anyway, onto the Flavin in green. I took the pictures on my windowsill to try and capture the real colour of the notebook and I brightened the pictures up a bit on Photoshop. The picture below is as accurate a representation I can get of the notebook's real colour - it isn't a horrid bright green, nor is it a dull one - it's a fashionable green, even if I do say so myself!

The Flavin is 168mm in height, 125mm in width and 19mm thick at it's widest part (due to its enclosure). It has a pen loop and the pen comes with the notebook.There is also a page marker in the form of a ribbon which is kind of similar to the one found in Moleskines.

In the photo below, you'll see that the pen loop and pen acts as the opening and closure of the book.

Upon opening the notebook, you'll see a few lines where you can write whatever you like - a quote that is motivational every day of the year or write your name and address/contact number if you're worried that you'll lose it.

The Flavin model is ruled and this is how it looks:

More about the paper later on in this post.

Anyway, towards the back, there are a few leaves where the edges are perforated. I tried to take a picture of this but it was hard to take one where the perforations were visible so you'll just have to take my word for it! I remember that about a year ago, people were saying that they wished that Filofax paper was tearable, for example, for giving someone your email address.

Well, in Arwey notebooks, this is a reality! There are 8 sheets which equates to 16 removable bits of paper (two on each sheet). Also at the back, there are pages where you can write down friends' and family members' birthdays, a yearly planner where each month has a space you can write things down on, a telephone numbers and email contacts page, a 'links' page where you can jot down the URLs of your favourite websites, a wish list page (where you can write down places you want to go to, foods to try, books to read, movies to watch, albums to listen and skills to learn), a page which displays world times, quite a few information pages and finally a page for travel planning with columns for the destination/itinery, date and notes plus a foldable world map which is integrated into the notebook.

Finally, at the back of the notebook is a pocket where you could store receipts or other relevant documents you may want to keep on you.

So far, this notebook sounds near enough identical to the Moleskine notebooks. But the price difference is small. On Amazon.co.uk, a Moleskine notebook is £8.29 but the Flavin is $19.00 (which approximately equates to £11.68. One may opt for a Moleskine due to the price difference but let's look at the quality of the paper and notebooks first. Flavin has a cover which keeps the pages at the edges intact whereas the Moleskine only has a bit of elastic. If you are, like me, one who just throws things into their bag on a random basis, then with a Moleskine, the edges of the pages can get damaged easily! However, with the Flavin, the extra bit of cover keeps these edges looking as if the notebook was still new.

Now, onto the paper quality. In the next picture, I wrote on a page of the Arwey 70GSM paper using different pen types.

As you can see, there is no bleeding with any of the ink types except from the fountain pen which is the standard Parker ink. And this is how it looks on the other side:

As you can see, the outline of the writing is visible but not so visible that it will disrupt anything you write on that page (apart from the Parker fountain ink which also had problems with the bleeding as said before).

I just want to compare the paper with my Moleskine diary paper. In the picture below, look carefully at the writing in pink. It is written with a Uniball eye pen.

And this is how it looked on the other side on the Moleskine paper.

Comparing this with the Arwey paper:

Looking at the two, we can see a visible difference. On the Moleskine paper, the pink ink clearly bled and showed through very clearly on the other side to a significant degree.

However, on the Arwey paper, there was no bleed whatsoever; in fact, it actually looked very smooth. On the other side of the paper, as before, it is visible but not to the extent that you can read exactly what it said - unless you studied it for a long period and carefully too.

If you'd like to see more of the Flavin in action, click here for a product video from Arwey.

Also, if you'd like to place an order with Arwey, I have an exclusive deal for you all - but it is for this weekend only! 15% off with no minimum spend. Just enter PAPERLOVESTORY at the checkout. The code expires on Monday the 29th of August so get in there quick! 

Stay tuned for part II! Thus far, I'm very impressed with the Flavin notebook but you'll have to check back in a few days to see if the Reich notebook impresses me as much!

25 Aug 2011

muji notebook review

I've been using Muji notebooks for years and I can't believe I never blogged about them properly! You can find some here on their website but be warned that they aren't as cheap as some other notebooks that you may get from, say, Paperchase. However, I usually buy my Muji notebooks from Hong Kong Muji stores so if the exchange rate is favourable, I can normally get them for a fairly good deal compared to the UK prices. Anyway, here is the front cover:

I've been using mine as a work experience diary for this summer as I'm shadowing doctors and seeing surgeries in nearby hospitals. I'm also using it as a notebook to collate all the stuff that would be relevant for my post-grad medicine application (such as sport, responsibilities I have had, etc). Anyway, the front cover is a mid-brownish colour and there is a yellow strip down the left hand side where the spine is. I actually bought a multipack of these and each spine had a different colour - there was red, yellow, grey and a navy too. 

Let's take a look at the paper. Ignore the content of the next page; I was just writing notes on things I had seen which had piqued my interest (thus, prompting me to research about them more on the internet).

The rule is narrow which is fine for me as my handwriting is on the smaller side anyway and the paper is a sort of faint yellowy colour (giving it a slightly vintage feel). The paper also feels smooth. The above picture shows a page where I used a rollerball pen. Next, I will show you how the paper looks with fountain pen.

For ease of writing, I actually preferred using the rollerball as I thought it made me write neater than with a fountain pen! Anyway, next crucial point - bleedthrough.

And overleaf:

As you can see, you can see the faint outline of where I have written things, but there isn't any bleedthrough at all to such an extent that you can see the ink. With fountain pen, there was no bleedthrough at all and you couldn't even see the outline of my writing on the other side of the page.

Overall, I'm actually quite impressed with these notebooks. They are slim as the website says there are 30 pages in each - something which I can confirm as I counted mine...! There are 30 pages which equates to 60 sides where writing can go. And also, these notebooks do look quite 'fashionable' if you will. They are simple in design and do the job nicely. They come in a range of different sizes but I have the one that is not A5 but it isn't A4 either; it's somewhere in between the two sizes and I find this is still small enough to carry to lectures if needs be.

NB: Photos updated 31st January 2015

23 Aug 2011

matching... to the extreme?

This free nail polish came with my copy of this month's Marie Claire.

And I've been looking for a 'nude' nail colour for ages now - nude enough that there is enough colour but not too dark a pinky nude. This is how it looked on my nail:

But more importantly, the nail colour matched with this...

This totally makes me want to start using my Vintage Rose Finchley again! And cos my nails match my Filofax so well, it might mean that I'll have to invest in a coral coloured Filo to go with my other nail varnish shades!

21 Aug 2011

filofax spot! (ish)

I was reading this month's Marie Claire and look what I found!

Not found what I mean yet? Here is a close up...

Now you know why the post title is the way it is!

Sorry about the picture quality - I was too lazy to head downstairs to scan the page so instead took a picture from my digital camera. Readers who also read Caribbean Princess' blog will notice that the page title is 'What's Inside Their Mulberrys?' - maybe CP will do one in the near future? (hint hint)

19 Aug 2011

a year as a minimalist / / part four

PART IV Essential 'Other' Spends

This category includes rent, bills and transport costs (amongst other things I may have missed out). For me, as I'm living in halls next year as a 'hall senior', I don't have to worry about bills and travel costs as it is only across the road from the campus (talk about convenient, eh) so technically, I can just roll out of bed and be in lectures within five minutes! However, I have to include travel for netball matches and other social events.

For this bit, identifying what outgoings you need to make can help you determine how much of your income (in my case, my student loan) these spends eat up. If you find that after all this, it only leaves you with a tenner for the month, it may be time to reconsider cutting back on rent (either by finding somewhere cheaper to live) or being a bit more frugal with water, gas and electricity. Last year, I had to pay for electricity and I found myself turning lights off when not in the room and turning electrics off when not in use. In one year, I only used just under £80 of electricity whereas, at home (where four of us live) we easily use over £500 in a year! 

17 Aug 2011

my free samples from avery!

So, I ordered these free samples from Avery and my goodness, I'm really quite impressed - both at the products and at the service (even though they were free!). Anyway, I ordered them five days ago if I remember correctly and they arrived in a plain white A4 envelope - a disguise which led to my confusion as I had no idea what it was! Upon opening it up, I was greeted with this:

The lady on the front certainly looks cheerful. I opened it up to find loads of sticky labels on five sheets of A4 but the best bit was finding the notetabs.

An inspection of the leaflet they included within the pack leads me to believe that my free sample was a bit lacking (in terms of quantity) as there is meant to be five different types of sticky tabs in my pack? Either way, I was still pleased with this offering. The colours of the tabs are bright and fit in well with my 'girly' nature and they look to be of good quality too.

The tabs appear quite thick as you can see in the next picture where I am showing the width of just one of these tabs:

And a closer look at the pink and blue colour of the tabs:

These tabs make me wish that my last year was coming up sooner - a bad thing as I'm meant to be loving the epic three month summer holiday instead! I will post an update once I've used one of these tabs but that may be a while as university doesn't resume until the first week of October!

15 Aug 2011

a year of money saving

To aid my two challenges - A Year As A Minimalist and Happiness Project (you'll find out why later in this post), I devised my own spreadsheet. It is based on the second one on here but I edited out the bits irrelevant to me and put in bits that were.

Making it look that bit more attractive will make me more likely to use it (I hope) and I have made one for each month for the next twelve months. This involves keeping all receipts and logging everything I spend money on. Each spreadsheet is for one calender month.

If you're interested in downloading this one to use, let me know and if there is enough demand, I'll upload it but if not, leave your email and I'll send you a copy!

Now, why does this tie in with my Happiness Challenge? Well, having money in the bank makes me happy. It means I'm prepared for any eventuality and also means I have a bit more disposable income. With this in mind, it means I can think about going on a weekend break somewhere, straight away, without having to save up for months for it beforehand! After all, spontaneity is something that I personally think that I should embrace.

On another note, I've signed up for the 'All Stars Tour' on Philofaxy. Take a look as there are other amazing blogs and bloggers taking part!

13 Aug 2011

a year as a minimalist / / part three


Questions to address:
1. What makes me impulse buy?
2. Do 'special offers' seem irresistable to me?

To answer these questions and to have a real effect with them is to answer them honestly. So I will.

Impulse buys happen to me a lot; at the supermarket, when on a shopping spree, when buying lunch... The list is endless. However, recognising what makes me impulse buy can help me combat it! I know that on a weekly shop; if I go while hungry, I tend to pick up things such as a bar of chocolate or a packet of something not so good for me or my purse. So, to limit the number of impulse grocery buys I make a month, I tend to go grocery shopping straight after lunch or breakfast. For lunch, I find bringing just enough money for a sandwich/salad and a drink is usually enough; and to save even more, I usually bring my own lunch. Sometimes, though, I forget or don't have the time to pack my own lunch but this only happens about once a term anyway!

However, an impulse buy I made during a clothes shop turned out to be one of my best buys!

The dress was bought on the whim and I have to say that I love it. I have worn it so many times since I bought it back in January and the quality really is good! But, I am not condoning impulse buys as I know most of my impulse clothing and footwear purchases have ended up on eBay within 6 months of owning them (and barely a wear too!)

Next, special offers. When I get an email with money of a purchase of something, or an email for a discount code for one of my favourite stores, I usually find it quite difficult to resist having a browse of the website. As a consequence, an order shortly follows this 'innocent' browse! In order to reduce this temptation, I have opted to unsubscribe from emails from clothing stores. It was painful as I kept thinking 'what if I miss out on an awesome bargain?' but then, I realised that I won't be missing out at all. My wardrobe is complete and if I ever need anything, I can hunt out these discount codes on Google anyway! For those who don't know, the unsubscribe link is normally at the bottom of all 'spam' and 'weekly newsletter' emails from companies.

11 Aug 2011

highs and lows

Sorry for a lack of posts in the past five days. I've been busy and also saddened by the recent news of riots in the city I love (London).

So, the let's start with the lows.

The Riots

I just don't understand how people can destroy the city they live in. They have destroyed other (hard working) peoples' lives, destroyed a place they once knew so well and have also caused so much hatred towards themselves.

I mention the last point because there have been rioters who have given the excuse that they 'dislike the treatment towards them by the police in the past' or 'they want to show the rich people a point'. Now, I don't know about you but for me, I don't think this recent behaviour will cause their treatment from the police to improve; nor do I think that it has proven a point to rich people (that 'poorer' people can also get what they want or whatever point they are trying to get across). In fact, I think it gives the 'richer' a poorer opinion of the people who gain their taxes in the form of benefits! Bet they didn't think of that when they were stealing and drinking their looted rose wine!

And in Birmingham, the three poor souls killed who were knocked down by a car. R.I.P. I hope the people who are looting and 'rioting' are happy with all the misery they have caused. And to note that they are mostly (if not all), 'youths'. I have never been more ashamed of being a young person and it makes me detest the fact that I am in this generation of 'youths'! Doing things like this as 'there is nothing else to do' or because they 'are finding it hard to get a job'; well, I'm sorry but we are all in the same boat - young people or not. Nothing else to do? Go read a book or learn a new language! Hard time finding a job? Well, everyone has to start somewhere. All too often, I hear of people who have no qualifications moaning about the fact that they cannot find a job. Well, have you ever thought that you are setting your standards too high; with your lack of experience and qualifications? I'm not saying everyone is like that, but I do personally know of a few who are!

Anyway, enough about the riots. I could go on forever but overall, I have mixed emotions of it. Sadness, anger and frustration. Sadness as they are destroying their own cities; anger because of the lack of reasoning for this mindless violence and finally, frustration to be part of this 'youth' generation.

Moving onto the happiness now. Now, as some of you may (or may not) know, I've been doing work experience in a hospital for the summer and will do until mid September. I've mainly been in the obstetrics and gynaecology department and I have enjoyed it thus far.

But to cap it off (definitely the best day of my life so far) was being able to stand in theatre while a caesarean section was being performed! Having watched close to twenty surgeries so far, I have to say this one was the best. Watching them on the television or on Youtube just isn't the same.

And when the baby started crying in its cot, I found myself choking back tears - tears of joy and happiness that is! I didn't know the couple who were the baby's parents but watching a birth (my first time watching a birth in real life - watching One Born Every Minute just isn't the same!) was overwhelming in terms of emotions.

All in all, it's been a bittersweet week. Watching a birth on Monday to hearing about the riots when I came home from a long (but excellent) day at the hospital gave me mixed feelings.

6 Aug 2011

a year as a minimalist / / part two

So, part two of my five part series in a build up to my 'Year as a Minimalist' challenge. Part two is about... my weekly grocery shop.

The main questions here are:
1. What do I need to live on in a week?
2. For snacking, can I make do with cheaper snacks? Both in terms of calories and price?
3. What things can I buy on offer?
4. What are my essential spends - things can be bought in advance?

In order to work these things out, I kept ALL my receipts from my weekly spends during my second year. (That sounds pretty sad doesn't it...) and it enabled me to work out what type of things I regularly buy. I worked out that I usually do a grocery shop every four days or so; so as to maintain freshness of produce. The first of these two shops usually involve me buying my 'essentials' i.e. vegetables, meat, bread. But it's the second shop where I spend a bit more - usually on bits and bobs that I don't really need, per se, such as expensive fruit juices, that bar of Galaxy...

Having identified these facts, I can now try and combat them by taking a shopping list with me every time I go for a grocery shop.

To tackle question two - making do with cheaper snacks. Well, this one is easy - just buy fruit. In the summer, berries are usually on offer so summer snacking is simple but winter snacking? Not so simple. I guess I'd just have to see what is on offer at the time - tying in with question three.

To identify what I can buy on offer, this involves a little bit of research on my part. Waitrose do a weekly 'weekend magazine' which is free and it can give an indication of what is on offer. However, they also do a mini A5 leaflet with current offers as well as future offers on it so I will have to start looking out for these.

And finally, things bought in advance. Now, this might sound contradictory to the whole concept but it isn't, trust me! Firstly, things that can keep include shampoo, conditioner, soaps, toilet roll, etc. Now, if you notice that you recently opened your last bottle of shampoo, or are onto your last roll of toilet roll, it might be a good time to buy another two bottles of shampoo or another multipack of toilet roll if they happen to be on offer. If your desired brand isn't, it might be worth considering a switch to a brand that is on offer...temporarily of course unless you desperately want that brand. As a student, for me, anything goes when it comes to loo roll as all that happens to it is that it gets flushed down a toilet so I tend to buy the cheapest. With shampoo, however, I stick by my beloved 'Aussie' brand as it has been the best for my hair (trust me, I've tried Head and Shoulders, Herbal Essences, Tresemme, L'oreal... you name it, I'll have tried it) and I'd ideally like to keep my hair healthy :)

Any other suggestions as to how I can minimise my weekly spend will be appreciated too! I'm on a strict budget next year as my student loan is considerably less than last year and I get almost a third less than I did in first year!

This concludes part two; part three coming soon!

4 Aug 2011

happiness project update #1

So, it's been about a month since I started my happiness project (credit to Gretchen Rubin and her book of course); and I think it has been quite successful. I'm determined to keep up a 'One Sentence Journal' for a whole year and here is a snippet for you all to peruse at your own leisure. If you wish to of course.

I've skipped out one day where there was something more private but other than that, I have blanked out the usual 'sensitive' information :) This journal also lets you see just how simple I am too! Clearly, for me, the little things make me happy...for the majority of things anyway! Let's leave it at that... Moving on swiftly.

These are my 'Daily Do's' for August. Note the 'Get dressed everyday' 'do'. This is because when it comes to university holidays, I have a tendency to be a bit lazy. I don't change out of my PJs unless I'm leaving the house for whatever reason and as a result, I spent quite a number of days in PJs during Easter and Christmas hols this year due to exam revision! To make up for that, I'm going to get changed every day and actually make an effort. Thus far, I have found that this has had a positive effect on the beginning of the day as it actually brightens my mood a little!

You may also notice the 'Goal a day'. Examples of which are below in a badly designed collage! I have planned my goals in advance and they can be small or big. For example, 'bake' as in bake a cake or cupcakes or whatever else I wish and 'watch The King's Speech' because I bought three DVDs a few weeks ago and have once watched one so far! For some reason (even though it's the summer hols and I'm free as a bird), I've not had the time to watch the other two!

So, this the first update of my 'Happiness Project'. I'm not sure if it's working yet as this is my first official full month doing it but we'll see! Hopefully these daily goals will spruce up daily life and make things more bearable for my friends who I keep moaning to about being bored (living in the countryside has its definite cons even if the 'views' (of fields, might I add) may be 'nice'.

3 Aug 2011

new layout!

Hope you all like it! It's more fresh than the camel colour used previously. Anyway, a more (hopefully) interesting post coming tomorrow!

1 Aug 2011

a year as a minimalist / / part one

Some of you may have noticed a new page on my blog: the money page. This is going to be for a challenge I am going to do throughout the last year of my undergraduate university course (it feels like yesterday that I moved into halls of residence in my first year too! How scary!).

The aim? "To minimalise all my purchases for 12 months from September 2011 to September 2012"

I'm going to do a five series post in the build up to the start of this challenge which will cover different parts of my spending personality. Note, though, that I'm not trying to cut out all purchases but instead, I am going to minimalise. So I'll be saying 'no' to that bar of chocolate I pick up at the supermarket on the whim and I'll also be saying no to taking a bus for what would be a forty minute walk (after all, exercise is good! And if I walk, I can at least feel less guilty about skipping that gym session!).

So this is the first part. This part will concern my wardrobe because, as most of you should know by now, I love my clothes and I love fashion. I have a wardrobe chock full of clothes I wear but also clothes that I rarely wear or only wear once in a blue moon. So first things first. The big clearout. Anything not worn in the last year were put in a box and anything that needed 'fixing' were put in another box.

Here is my wardrobe after the clearout:

Now, this is far from done. But the first part is to determine what is missing. So, what essentials do I need that are missing? Or do I have all bases covered? If I have gaps, do these really need filling?

Well, from this, I realised that I'm not really missing anything at all! I have most bases covered: pretty day dresses, pretty cocktail dresses, smart shoes, casual shoes, a pair of well fitting jeans (bought from Primark a few years ago too!), enough cardigans, enough winter coats (more than enough if I dare say it... A girl needs variety!), etc.

All in all, the first part of the challenge is successful, thus far. Now, I just have a month to get it into my mind that I have enough clothes as that will be the mentality I will need for this year long challenge!

For those interested, clothes that didn't make the cut into my slimmed down wardrobe have since been listed on eBay (except from any winter coats as I haven't decided with those yet!). Anything that remains unsold after this Sunday will be put on my Blogshop (which is currently down while my eBay shop is up!).