31 May 2013

review: No 7 beautiful skin cleansing brush

A bit of an unusual post today as I don't tend to post about beauty products. However, I love this product so much that I've decided that it's only fair to share my love of the No 7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Brush. I have not been paid to do this review and I bought this product for the full RRP with my own money.

My skin has always not been great but it's not been bad either. I get breakouts if I indulge too much (in terms of food and drink) and I also get break-outs when it's that time of the month. It's been a lot better since I was 18, but from the ages of 16-18, it was the reason why I lost a lot of self-confidence as I'd always have a few spots keeping me company!

I have tried being on the oral contraceptive pill (OCP) in an effort to improve the state of my skin and also to minimise the extreme menstrual cramps I get on a monthly basis. Although the OCP did work fairly well on my skin, it gave me irritable bowel syndrome and I became sensitive to quite a few foods - resulting in me ceasing the services of the OCP two months' ago.

Anyway, long story short, the bad skin returned and I turned to my diet to ensure that my skin would be the best it could be. This meant lots of water (that's all I drink now, plus the odd bottle of Powerade for those extreme sport days), minimal refined sugar (well, the majority of the time) and a balanced diet. This isn't a problem for me as I'm a bit of a health-freak when it comes to food anyway but my skin was still prone to the odd break-out.

Enter the No 7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Brush - introduced and recommended to me by a few readers who commented on this post.

As Boots had a 3 for 2 offer on at the time for No 7 goods, and as I had a few vouchers to spend, I decided to get two bottles of the No 7 Soft and Soothed Gentle Cleanser too. I justified this spend because the total of my basket came to less than the price of the cleansing brush on its own and because I hadn't spent any money on clothes this year.

Anyway, this product, along with the cleanser, has been a revelation. My skin has been a lot clearer since getting it two and a half weeks' ago (yes, it does seem to work that quickly!). I wouldn't say it's perfect but the brush seems to help a lot. I don't wear make-up at all (and if I do, it's usually to cover up a breakout...!) but I've heard reports of this brush removing more make-up than just using a cotton wool pad would.

All I do is apply the cleanser to your face (making sure there is a bit on each area), wet the brush head a little and then turn it on (press once for a slower speed or twice for a faster rotation). I tend to do 10-15 seconds for each cheek, 10-15 seconds for the forehead, up to 10 seconds for my nose and up to 10 seconds for my chin. After this, remove the cleanser as usual and proceed with the rest of your routine. I do this once every two days and I haven't found the bristles too abrasive, but I do have oily skin so that might make a difference? I've found that by doing it twice a day, my skin becomes very dry in patches and if I do it once a day, it's still a bit much.

If I had to change one thing, I would have chosen a cleanser that foams more. However, the one I did purchase hasn't been too bad either - my skin has been softer with its use and apart from the price (£8 a bottle when there are no promotions on), I have no complaints. I also decided to tried out the cleansing brush with the Clinique 3-Step stuff I have and it works a lot better with the Clinique Liquid Facial Soap due to the lather created.

The cleansing brush itself is £24.99, which I personally think is a very good price. Considering the Clarisonic is several times that price with their replacement brush heads almost as much as the No 7 Cleansing Brush itself, there is only one winner. Although I have never tried any of the Clarisonic products, I can't justify ever trying them because of how little the No 7 alternative costed me in comparison.

Again, I apologise for a more personal and beauty-orientated blog post but I just wanted to share this great product with you all, especially as a number of readers recommended this product :)

29 May 2013

Smythson six-month anniversary

It's now been just over six months since I got my Smythson binder and quite honestly, I don't think I will ever be moving out of it (although my Kate Spade does tempt me on a regular basis). I thought I'd do a 'check-in' to say more about how I am getting along with it, how much wear and tear has since occurred amongst other things.

I loved it when I first got and six months later, I still love it now (if not, more!). The colour, the texture of the leather (inside and outside), the inserts, gold rings... everything! It also adds a bit of glamour to my planning life and the I'm really happy with how it is working for me. I will be writing a blog post on my current set-up in it soon!

Quality-wise, this binder still looks as good as new. No gaps in the rings (I repeat, no gaps in the rings! Apart from one minor hiccup where I received a faulty one, this one has been perfect!), no wear on the leather (even though I throw this in my bag on a regular basis) and the stitching is still in place. I cannot be happier with this binder and I don't regret selling most of my Filofax organisers to get it.

The only negative I can come up with is that the price of the inserts are ridiculous. I've not paid for my diary insert (I was gifted it due to problems I had with the original order and receiving a faulty binder) and I am already looking for a different diary option for 2014. However, the quality of the paper does make me question if looking for an alternative is a good idea and I am also toying with the idea of making my own diary inserts for 2014.

Although the price of Smythson binders is quite high, the exceptional quality of the rings, leather and stitching makes the brand a winner. If you baulk at the RRP of these binders, my tip would be to wait for a sale (their biggest one is the post-Christmas sale) where they are heavily discounted.

So, any questions about this binder or the Smythson brand? :)

28 May 2013

my week round-up #21

Here was my week and here are the blogs taking part in this week's round-up:

{1} Life of Kitty
{2} Imogen Rose Beauty
{3} Live Love Organize
{4} Pixie Dust Filled Dreams
{5} She's Eclectic
{6} Lucy Wonderland
{7} Le Monde de Mzelle
{8} Nerd-Zilla
{9} Red Lips 'n' Pearls
{10} Miss Mai's Adventures
{11} The Wonderful Life of Alice
{12} Life of a Dreamer
{13} Star Gardener
{14} Sailor Mouth
{15} My Summer Touch
{16} The Simple Life
{17} Imogen Rose Beauty
{18} Life of Kitty
{19} Puddytat Purr
{20} Organized Heaven
{21} My Purpley Life
{22} Roses in December

Want to join in? Click the button below for more info :)

NB: Inclusion on my weekly round-ups do not mean that I endorse any of the products or services sold by readers in the list and I do not get commission from any sales that may be the result of a click-through.

27 May 2013

restaurant review: Busaba Eathai in Westfield Stratford

This blog post is what you're probably not used to seeing on here but it's good to mix things up. Also, sharing good food really is caring. :)

Last week, one of my good friends, Kay, and I were in Stratford, London on some important business (not stationery related in case you were wondering) and by about 2pm, our stomachs were growling. In desperate need for some food, we navigated our way around a very big Westfield Stratford and stumbled across Busaba Eathai. I've never been there before but Kay had and she said it was alright - so what was there to lose? Thai food, a recommendation from a London restaurant connoisseur (her, not me!) and two starving bellies? Can't really go wrong there.

Now, I loooooooove Thai food. I made my own pad thai a few weeks' ago and it was pretty decent. It's obviously much better when you have it in a restaurant (I swear that having to wash up dishes and a wok can bring down a dish by a few notches) but it wasn't bad either.

Anyway, moving on swiftly... Our choice of beverage was a 'Guava Collins' each, which according to the menu had guava, lime, coconut and Thai lime leaf in it. It tasted a little sweet and a little mild too. I wasn't particularly blown away by this drink but I didn't dislike it either.

I opted for a 'tom yam talay' which was a noodle soup with prawn, squid and fish cake in a spicy sour soup base. I was quite impressed with the number of prawns that were in it and I really enjoyed it. It was quite a breezy day and as I feel the cold really easily, I chose this noodle soup and I didn't regret it although the soup base was a bit saltier than I personally would have liked.

That is... Until I tried what Kay had ordered. She went for the pad thai and when I tried a little, I found that the pad thai really, really tickled my tastebuds. That's definitely what I'm ordering the next time I venture into this restaurant chain! We also ordered 'Goong tohd prawn' to share and that wasn't bad either but I wouldn't say it was something to write home about (I found the sauce too sour and salty).

Overall, my experience with Busaba Eathai was actually quite a positive one. The service was fast and efficient and the food wasn't too bad either. Next time, I'm definitely ordering the pad thai, plus a different drink and side. For the two of us, the bill came to just under £30 (including 10% service) which is a on the pricier side. However, as I only eat out once or twice a month (on average), I felt that this treat was justified. After all, we all need a treat from time to time, right?

So, if you're ever in Central London and fancy Thai food, Busaba Eathai isn't a bad shout if your purse strings allow :)

NB: I was not paid to write this review and I paid for the food myself.

26 May 2013

my week #58

Another plainer week and I love it :-) I'm trying to see if this layout could work for me once uni starts so I'm trying to create as much space as possible for potential uni things that would need to be written in. I'm still toying with the idea of using two-days-per-page instead but we'll see.

How has your week been?

24 May 2013

using my slimline deco to keep a basic food diary

Since early February, I decided to keep a food diary. I didn't want to shell out for a whole new day-per-page diary and so I decided to utilise the WO2P cotton cream Filofax inserts I had that were now rotting away (due to these Smythson diary inserts). But with limited space to write what I'd eaten and at what time, this left little room for calorific intake and any other information that other food diary keepers may like to record too (well, that's an assumption!).

This is how my weekly pages for my food diary end up looking:

Just in case you were wondering, I had already pre-decorated the inserts at the end of 2012!

Anyway, this has really helped me see what kind of foods I need to increase and what other foods to decrease (sweets, for one!). I'm also trying to gain a bit more muscle mass because I've started playing netball again after an 18 month hiatus from the sport.

I think for the person who doesn't need to keep a detailed food diary, using a Slimline Filofax and WO2P cotton cream inserts would be fine. I wouldn't recommend the white WO2P inserts as the spaces for Saturday and Sunday would end up being too small. Furthermore, a Slimline Filofax can actually hold a whole year's of inserts and for this reason, I've personally found it ideal for this use.

Ultimately, it depends on what information you want to record as if you want to add in calories, your weight, exact portion sizes and the amount of exercise you do, you might want to consider upgrading to day-per-page inserts. Either way, I think a smaller ringed Filofax (Compact or Slimline) could end up working really well as a food/health diary.

22 May 2013

styling my Smythson organiser!

Today, I thought I'd do a random (and hopefully fun!) post on styling my Smythson organiser. So, what do I mean by this? Well, I thought I'd try and find an outfit from my existing wardrobe (or closet, if you are from the other side of the pond) that would compliment this binder and this is what I've come up with.

Firstly, a reminder of the binder itself (as if you needed the reminder - I've posted pictures of it at every opportunity; so I'll take this chance to do so again!):

Firstly, I decided to seek out some pens that would compliment the binder perfectly and this was the result: a Muji 0.5mm pink gel and a Muji 0.5mm erasable pen (Muji should so employ me as their ambassador!). The erasable pen is a lighter hue of pink whereas the Muji one is more assertive in colour so I think they would compliment each other nicely!

And now, onto the outfit. I opted for a pink chiffon scallop detail blouse by Topshop and a pair of camel shorts by Whistles. I think both were bought sometime in 2011 so I don't think they will be sold in their respective stores anymore, although eBay may be your best friend if you want to seek them out :)

The pink blouse goes well with the pink colour of the binder but the camel shorts also represents the inside of the binder. As shown in the next picture, a lot of my tabs are a creamy colour and so that is why I chose this pair of shorts - not only do they look great with the blouse, they also represent my Smythson binder in a more subtle way.

I've yet to find anything in my wardrobe that is the perfect shade of cornflower blue so there is nothing in this outfit that represents my diary inserts unfortunately!

I hope you enjoyed this blog post :) It is a more playful post than usual, I think, but I enjoyed the process I went through in taking the pictures and writing it. I hope to do another two styling posts for my Slimline Deco and also my Kate Spade organiser soon, so sit tight!

Who said you can't be organised and fashionable? ;) (No one did - it's a rhetorical question.)

21 May 2013

my week round-up #20

Here was my week and here are the blogs taking part in this week's round-up:

{1} Pixie Dust Filled Dreams
{2} Lucy Wonderland
{3} She's Eclectic
{4} The Ravings of a Classics Student
{5} Sailor Mouth
{6} Miss Mai's Adventures
{7} Red Lips 'n' Pearls
{8} The Wonderful Life of Alice
{9} Nerd-Zilla
{10} My Summer Touch
{11} The Simple Life
{12} Le Monde de Mzelle
{13} Pony Town
{14} My Purpley Life
{15} DIY Sara

Want to join in? Click the button below for more info :)

NB: Inclusion on my weekly round-ups do not mean that I endorse any of the products or services sold by readers in the list and I do not get commission from any sales that may be the result of a click-through.

19 May 2013

my week #57

Yesterday, I decided to see how many books I had read since I got my Kindle on the 15th of July 2012. It turns out I've read 44 books since then - 43 more than the year prior to that date. In terms of this year, I've fallen behind a little and am now on 20 books with it now being the 20th week out of 52 whereas a few weeks' ago, I was two books ahead.

And last night, it was the highlight of my May so far - Eurovision! Every year, there is one music-related programme I always make sure I watch and that is Eurovision. After all, who doesn't love cheesy music?

How has your week been?

17 May 2013

review: life canvas by parragon books

For some reason, Parragon books are a name I generally associate with my childhood and the Scholastic catalogues I used to get from school (I'm not even sure they are connected!). I was surprised to see that this brand had now branched out into the stationery sector with their Life Canvas range - not that I think it's a bad thing! Unexpected brands are popping up all over the place with stationery ranges - I recently talked about Hallmark releasing various stationery ranges too. More choice can only be a good thing for stationery fiends like myself and all of you readers :)

This review will feature four products: a colour notebook, an A6 organiser notebook, a 'My Notebook Organiser' set and the 'My Travel Journal'.


I have the purple one to show off here but these notebooks also come in red, green, yellow, silver and blue. According to the website, they come in bright Pantone colours and as you might already know, I love Pantone notebooks with my orange one and my pink one so you can see why this range appealed to me! The true colour wasn't really captured by my camera - it is a lovely bright purple and the text 'Purple Rain' is actually shiny and pressure printed as opposed to being a lighter shade of purple.

Inside, the pages are a light purple with a darker purple border. Notice the rounded edges - I love little details like this! On each double-page spread is a quote, phrase or anecdote that has the word purple within it. It also has a ribbon that acts as a page marker.

The paper feels quite thin and when I did a brief pen test with my Pentel Energel 0.7mm in black, I found that there was more show-through than I would have liked. However, the paper absorbed the ink well with minimal visible feathering.


I am a big fan of birds and ducks (they pretty much look the same when it comes to stationery) and this definitely caught my eye. The front cover makes it quite obvious that this is aimed, primarily, at the female population.

Inside, there are 'tabs' formed by cutting the various sections of paper down to size. There are ten tabs and these are: notes, to do, ideas, the best music, books, films, websites plus three blank ones for you to label as you wish. Each page is beautifully decorated in some way and I can definitely see the appeal.

The paper feels identical to the Purple Rain note book featured above. Retailing at £8, this notebook is quite expensive for what it is but with it being quite a niche product, I can see why it is priced higher than other similarly sized notebooks out there. I think this would make an ideal birthday gift for someone.


The Chirp A5 My Organiser Set retails at £10.

This is a cute organiser where you have a variety of tools to work with. It opens up from left to right and then opens once again from right to left (if that even makes sense!). When you open it up, there is a envelope pocket on the right (I love the enclosure - it reminds me of my childhood as my dad had many envelopes and folders like that. I used to play with them all the time!) and when it is open fully, there are sticky notes on the left and a pad of A5 notepaper in the middle too.

The one thing about the sticky notes is that the top middle one is hard to remove due to the placement of the sticky notes around it. It would have been better for there to be a tiny gap between each set. I tested out the stickiness of these sticky notes and they aren't too bad. They are sticky enough to stay stuck on and so much so that the part without the glue ends up curling up. The glue doesn't feel super-sticky but it does the job very nicely.

This product is beautiful - I'm not the girliest girl but this organiser set had my mouth watering, mainly due to this notepad. Each sheet is perforated at the top to minimise the possibility of a messy tear.

Finally, the envelope is expandable and it is the right size for a chequebook/cheque (I'm trying to give you an idea about its true size). The enclosure is quite safe and shouldn't come apart by itself if done up properly.

Overall, this organiser set had me loving and disliking it at the same time. The design is great and appealing without being too cheesy and the whole set in general is very practical and usable. However, the elastic enclosure is something I'm not a fan of - I would have either made it a vertical one as opposed to a horizontal one and the closeness of each set of sticky notes does make it frustrating for those times when you want to tear one off in a hurry.


This travel journal is A6 in size and has a vintage-like feel to it - something I love!

The 'My Travel Journal' retails at £8.

Opening it up, there is a pocket on the left - ideal for tickets and various other paraphernalia you'll undoubtedly accrue when on your travels. There is a journal on the right and boy, is it packed with a variety of useful pages. Here are the pages included:

- Things to do before I go;
- Things to pack;
- Quite a number of pages designed for you to record what you did, where, when and what the weather was like;
- A number of pages for you to record restaurants you went to, dishes you tried, thoughts and what not to miss. There are also stars for you to give to each restaurant - what a way to make you feel like a professional food critic!;
- Pages for you to note down addresses and contact details of friends - ideal for postcard sending;
- A world map with each country in a different colour;
- A time zone map;
- Currencies of the world;
- and a page of  conversions and measurements (as not everyone deals in metric!).

Top left: what you see when you open the notebook;
Top right: journal pages for you to record what you did, when, where and what the weather was like;
Bottom left: restaurant record pages;
Bottom right: Things to pack
I love the design of the pages in the journal, and also the overall visual design of it because I'm a sucker for things with a vintage design. However, I'm not a fan of the elastic enclosure (again) - I think it ruins a very pretty notebook. If the elastic was vertical instead of horizontal, I think this notebook could very well have received full marks from me in the design department!

Another thing I noticed was that the notebook on the right wasn't glued on straight and neither was the envelope on the left. Both were visibly wonky - and I didn't go looking for the wonkiness; I noticed it when I was flicking through the pages for the purpose of this review. Obviously, this won't bother everyone and I might just have received a dud one but for those of you out there who are more OCD about these kind of things, you might want to inspect this product in person before buying it.

At the back of the notebook is a quote:

This travel journal just makes me want to go travelling imminently!

Overall, I'm quite surprised at how pretty the products were in person. The paper quality leaves a little to be desired but it isn't dreadful enough for the range to be a total write-off. In general, the range does its concept justice - all of the notebooks give you a way to document your life in some way and the ones I have definitely do that, and very well too. If you want to see more about the range of products, click here :)

Thank you, Emily at Parragon books, for sending me these samples for a review. It was a pleasure to 'test-drive' them and to flick through notebooks with such beautifully designed paper!

Disclaimer: All views my own and are not affected by the fact that the products were received as samples. I receive no commission from any links used in this blog post and I was not paid to write this blog post.

15 May 2013

my own personal favourite weeks

With it now being just over a year since I did my first 'my week' post, I thought I'd review them all and choose my favourites from the past year (and some!). I remember how I first came up with this idea - I enjoyed peeking into other people's planners and thought it would be a good feature to have on my blog; not only to ensure I blog regularly but because, at the time, it was unique and not something anyone else had done. I still can't believe how many of you are taking part in the 'my week round-ups' each week and it's so great to see how everyone uses their planner.

Anyway, not only did I look through the weeks I had posted since I started this feature, I also looked through my 2010 and 2011 diaries (I can't find my 2009 one?!). It's interesting how my 'planner style' has evolved throughout these years...

To begin with, I've chosen a few of my favourites from 2010 (these you won't have seen before) and I just love how neat they all are (no doubt the lines help with that!).

And the week after: again, I love how neat it is and the minimalistic nature of it.

And in this next one, I love how I've used cursive to write in my exams (because that makes them seem less scary, of course):

And my final sample from 2010... 

Moving onto 2011 now. I only have one sample to show you because I remember that I reverted to a Moleskine sometime in March of that year. I can't find the Moleskine so this will have to do for now. It is obvious that at this point, there was an explosion of colour...

2012 is next and this was my favourite of the year. I've kept the colour but toned it down a little and in late 2011/early 2012 was when my washi tape obsession started and clearly I carried that on until the end of the year.

And finally, my two favourites from 2013 so far (I couldn't decide between the two)...

In the first one, I quite liked how blank it was, that it was free of washi tape and only had the minimum of stickers to make it look a bit more interesting.

Week 44
And in the second one, I liked the quirks I added to make it prettier, such as the curved brackets, enlarged '&' on the Tuesday and also the white pen on Saturday.

Week 47
Has your planner/journal keeping style evolved?

14 May 2013

my week round-up #19

If you haven't already, Amanda has done a lovely post on her blog about being envious of my planner. She's starting a series on it and I'm honoured to be the first one to have been chosen - her comments are lovely too. She also takes part in this 'my week' feature so look out for those posts as they are always colourful!

Here was my week and here are the blogs taking part in this week's round-up:

{1} Imy's World
{2} Pixie Dust Filled Dreams
{3} She's Eclectic
{4} Lucy Wonderland
{5} Practically Pretty
{6} Miss Mai's Adventures
{7} The Wonderful Life of Alice
{8} Le Monde de Mzelle
{9} Sailor Mouth
{10} Nerd-Zilla
{11} Life of Kitty
{12} Red Lips 'n' Pearls
{13} My Purpley Life
{14} Star Gardener
{15} My Summer Touch
{16} Imy's World
{17} The Ravings of a Classics Student
{18} The Simple Life
{19} DIY Sara
{20} This Little Life of Mine

I love seeing the different ways of keeping an organised life, don't you? :) Want to join in? Click the button below for more info :)

NB: Inclusion on my weekly round-ups do not mean that I endorse any of the products or services sold by readers in the list and I do not get commission from any sales that may be the result of a click-through.

13 May 2013

why I lost faith in Filofax

Apologies for a more text-heavy post today!

A few years ago, I started using a Filofax to organise my time and life. Until about the summer of 2012, I was quite happy with them until I noticed that binders I hadn't used in over a year were in a condition I didn't expect them to be in. Moreover, ring problems were developing in my binders - even ones that I had in storage (or maybe I'd just not noticed them before? Blinded by love, anyone?). I had always tried not to overstuff the rings as I am aware that can contribute to the issue and so to discover gaps is disappointing. Personally, I bought into the brand as I thought it was one that I could use for life, or at least a considerable amount of time.

I am not alone in this disappointment with the Filofax brand. Others have issues with paper quality and I agree with this - we're already paying a premium for the paper and the quality doesn't meet expectations, particularly for fountain pen users. Others dislike the direction the brand has been going in whilst others have concerns about the viability of the brand with all of the binder returns that have occurred.

For me, I don't like putting money into a brand that doesn't listen to its core customer base. I understand that it is necessary to widen the target market but to neglect the pre-existing target market is kind of unfair! I do love the brand but it is not one I will be going back to in the near future. Unless the ring problems are solved (maybe look for a new supplier? I remember Josh saying that Bender's - the one that Aspinal of London use - is a good brand?) and the leather quality issues taken care of (I know that leather can easily wear off but after a few months where it has been kept in a dust bag when taken out of the house... really?!), I don't think it is a brand I have faith in. Ironically, I don't put my Smythson binder in a dust bag and it is still as good as new (almost six months later!).

I know others are becoming less and less enticed by the range Filofax has to offer and are also feeling frustrated about them not responding to feedback given to them. You might remember a while back where there were a number of open letters to Helena Bloomer of Slam PR, but I understand that Filofax have since ceased the services of this PR company.

Right now, I only have two Filofax binders (a compact Chameleon (I am selling this one!) and a Slimline Deco), a Kate Spade agenda and a Smythson Bond Street organiser that is my binder of choice at the moment.

With other brands offering Filofax personal-sized compatible inserts, I don't anticipate buying anything Filofax for a long time. Franklin Covey (though slightly wider), DayTimer, Quo Vadis, Smythson, Kate Spade and Louis Vuitton all offer diary inserts that would fit and I'm pretty sure most, if not all, of them offer inserts with higher quality paper (though this does come at an extra cost).

How do you guys feel about Filofax? I know I started off blogging about this brand but then gradually stopped mentioning their name at all and that kind of represents my waning love for the brand. If you use another planner, what do you use and why? :) It's interesting to see why others choose a brand and why they also stay loyal to one.

12 May 2013

my week #56

A week full of things in relation to the house. Decorating is progressing really fast now (we're doing it room by room and now that mine only has one or two small things to do, I'm doing my sister's for her while she's at uni).

My week is quite colourful, but at the same time, messy too. It gets better towards the end (Friday to Sunday) and I hope to carry on that minimalism onto next week's pages.

How was your week?

10 May 2013

review: daycraft handy pick and notebooks

** WARNING: This is a long and image heavy post! **

I was recently contacted by a Hong Kong-based company called Daycraft. I've heard of this brand before and actually have some of their notebooks from my last trip to Hong Kong! Daycraft sell diaries, notebooks and lifestyle products and although there are no physical shops in the UK or the US that stock their products, you can purchase their goods online as they ship worldwide.

An interesting fact about this company is that when I received the samples, I noticed that their address is very close to where one of my aunts live.

Anyway, I was lucky enough to receive some products for the purpose of a review for Paper Lovestory so here goes! Please note that all prices are in Hong Kong dollars but I have tried to convert the prices to English pounds at an exchange rate of $12 to £1.

Handy Pick Range

The Handy Pick range is one that can be compared to the Filofax Flex range or the Midori Traveler's Notebook range because you buy a holder and refills can be bought to place in the holder. Here is a video to explain more about the concept of this range.

I was sent the large size holder, a diary insert (week to view) and a notes insert.

In my opinion, the main selling point is the fact that your choice of inserts for the holder could be different to someone else's - ergo, it is customisable and totally unique to you. Well, almost. Just like the Flex and Midori Traveler's Notebook, there is only a limited number of refills available to purchase.

Inside the holder, there is a slot for a single card on the left, a secretarial pocket on the right and a contrast lining.

Personally, I love the size and weight of it. It is slim, the colour of the holder is pretty (it's not an overly girly pink but it's not that pale either) and the quality isn't too bad for something made of PU.

Here is a further look at the layout of the diary insert (left) and the notes insert (right). The notes insert pages are perforated so they can be torn out with ease if necessary. Don't you just love the rounded corners for the notebooks:

The large size holder retails for $219 (about £18.25), the large diary refill, with two to a pack, at $53 (about £4.42) and the large notes refill, with 60 pages to each notebook and again with two to a pack, at $69 (£5.75). I think this represents pretty good value when you compare the prices to Midori insert prices - a similar product (Refill 001) retails at £4 and has 64 pages but it is only a single notebook whereas for £1.75 more, you get two with the Handy Pick range.

Overall, I quite like this product. If it was made of leather, I think I could very well be completely sold! Comparing it to the Flex, I think I much prefer the design of the Handy Pick but the prices are definitely on the Filofax Flex side if you opt for the first edition covers. I think the Flex Slim size is a similar one to the large Handy Pick size. However, with me falling out of love with the Filofax brand, Daycraft would definitely be my preferred choice.

Next up, I did a pen test on the paper. I think the paper is quite similar to the white Filofax paper as the quality isn't that good. It is very smooth though and if you're only intending on using biro, it shouldn't be too much of a problem. Unlike the Filofax white paper, however, felt tips do not bleed and affect the other side of the paper so in this sense, the Handy Pick paper is of a higher quality.

Make My Day Notebook Range

The Make My Day range are notebooks that are bright and colourful. I opted to go for a more muted colour though as I wanted to review the quality of the product without being distracted by a bright and beautiful colour! Anyway, Daycraft have done a video to explain more about this range, and if you're curious, you can also browse it on their website.

My first thoughts when looking at this product was that the design is minimalistic and classy. The fabric feel of the cover kind of reminds me of canvas and the corner elastic had me intrigued. 

This A5 Apricot Make My Day notebook retails at $239 each (about £19.90).
There is no page ribbon in this notebook so the corner elastic is designed as the bookmark instead. I love this idea?! I've not seen any other product that advertises this as a feature so maybe I've just not been thinking creatively enough with other notebooks that have an elastic enclosure like this? I am ready to be proved wrong though, so please do let me know in the comments section if you have seen one! :)

The pages are of a cream colour (a proper cream - a bit darker than the Filofax cotton cream paper) with a rule that isn't narrow, nor is it wide. In my eyes, it is just perfect for my handwriting.

The paper is impressive - 100gsm! There is also a pocket on the back cover - ideal for those lose bits of paper.

It was a pleasure to do a pen test on the paper:

No bleeding with any of the inks (though I've still yet to find my fountain pen...!) and the only show-through was the Staedtler Lumocolor (which shows-through on pretty much every kind of paper there is). I wouldn't hesitate to use both sides of the paper in this notebook.

With a higher price tag than other A5 notebooks on the market (at HK$239), there has to be a special feature that justifies this RRP and I think there is: the quality of the paper is amazing (100gsm!), the quality of the cover is thick and seems hard-wearing and the design is minimalistic and timeless (thus, ensuring that you won't get sick of seeing it). 

Overall, I love the idea of the elastic as a bookmark and the paper is just to die for. However, this wasn't my favourite product out of the samples I received (even though I do love it!).

Signature Spectrum

The Signature Spectrum notebooks are ones that have a black covers but with coloured edged paper. This video explains more! I was sent the light blue and purple ones (both in A5 size). The cover is made of PU. 

I love the sharpness and brightness of the colours. It is quite easy for a purple edged and black covered notebook to look quite dark and dull but Daycraft have avoided that by using a colour that is highly pigmented. Moreover, the contrast between the black and light blue is brilliant - I'm already eager to get this notebook on my bookshelf to brighten it up!

All of these notebooks have a ribbon that is the same colour as the edges of the paper and it is designed to act as a bookmark.

Each A5 Signature Spectrum notebook retails at $159 (about £13.25). 

The paper is the same 100gsm cream paper seen in the Make My Day notebook so I won't bother with another pen test. We've still not come to my favourite product...

Signature Notebooks

And this is the final sample I received: two Signature notebooks. This was my favourite one and I will explain why...

The Signature notebooks are similar to the Signature Spectrum ones in that they have contrast edging but this time, the covers aren't black - they come in a range of colours. I only have the pink and purple ones to show - the pink one has a black contrast with the purple possessing a creamy gold contrast (it didn't come up too well in pictures unfortunately). They also come with a bookmark ribbon and the cover is made of PU.

These notebooks retail at $159 each (about £13.25) and with it being the same price as the Signature Spectrum ones, these represent better value for money. You get a thicker notebook with the same high quality 100gsm cream paper. I love the idea of a colourful cover with the paper edged in a contrast colour. The purple and gold/cream contrast is definitely a winner for me and out of all the samples I was sent, that one is my definite favourite. With regards to the pink one; the black contrast is decent but I think a different colour would have made it a better product - maybe a light tan brown or something instead.

Have I piqued your interest in Daycraft? They sell other products too (their diaries do look beautiful and I am even considering getting one for 2014 instead of using my Smythson!) and currently, this Flower Wow notebook in blue has a prominent place in my 'shopping' bookmarks folder. You can also find Daycraft on Facebook.

Overall, I would say that the price point of these sample products puts Daycraft at the higher end of the notebook market. However, I think the cost can be justified because the designs are minimalistic and practical (therefore will appeal to the majority, making them ideal for presents!), the quality of the covers are very good and the paper quality is excellent. Cream 100gsm paper with a rule that isn't too narrow, nor too wide - they clearly know the way to my heart!

Thank you, Shadow at Daycraft, for sending me these samples for a review. I hope I have done them justice as I was very, very impressed with them all!

Disclaimer: All views my own and are not affected by the fact that the products were received as samples. I receive no commission from any links used in this blog post and I was not paid to write this blog post.