21 Dec 2021

christmas planning and card writing

As a huge lover of Christmas and festive tidings, every Christmas, I take great pleasure in ensuring a Christmas-appropriate ink is in situ in one of my fountain pens. Last year, it was De Atramentis Santa (which confusingly smells of chocolate) and this year, I've opted for a personal favourite within the collection: J. Herbin Emerald of Chivor. My full review of it from 2018 can be seen here

I also make a note of who needs a Christmas card as my worst nightmare is leaving someone out by accident. This allows me to spend one afternoon, sat in my lounge with the heating on and a lit candle, writing out Christmas cards ready to post out. I still can't let go of pen and paper which I know is terrible for the environment. However, growing up giving out Christmas cards every year at school, it's a tradition that I can envisage carrying on for decades in my household. 

Now the next question is, which ink to use for next year? Do I purchase a new one or see the festive qualities in one I already own? Guess we'll find out next year!

Do you do something similar with your inks at Christmas time? 

9 Dec 2021

planning ahead with a bullet journal

The one thing about bullet journals that I struggle with is putting in important dates for the year after. Because I'm not buying a planner every October in preparation for the next calendar year, I knew a set-up within the current year's bullet journal was essential. 

So this is how I plan my year ahead. 

Each six months' get a double page spread of their own. This is to ensure there's plenty of space for important dates and also any other things I wanted to make a note of. 

To-dos for those specific months are noted, as are important dates where renewals may be coming up or appointments made in advance. I also make a note of upcoming blog posts and as you can see, there's a few coming up for next year! 

The other thing I like to do is make a note of things that need to be in a future future planner. For example, my passport renewal will be due in September 2031 - I'm still yet to work out whether this belongs on the first page of my bullet journal or in this future plan spread. Likewise with my mortgage! 

I'm still working through how this works for me and there's definitely room for improvement. However, this seems to work at present; allowing me to keep my planner neat and tidy whilst ensuring I still feel organised inside my head. 

Do you do your future planning another way? I'm always on the hunt for a better and more logical way! 

30 Nov 2021

midori A5 cover to cover notebook

Midori are a brand synonymous with quality stationery products. I was looking for a notebook with about 300 pages which can lay flat and be bashed around day-to-day. This one fit the bill. One of my friends used the thinner one at work earlier this year and I was impressed with how well the paper took fountain pen ink! It was then that I knew this thicker version at 365 pages would need to be added to my notebook collection. The only issue is when it'll get used given my current extensive stash! 

I also bought the plastic cover for it to try and protect it a bit more. At work, things have to be wiped clean easily (hence the plastic cover) and will undoubtedly see a lot of wear and tear.

The design is simplistic - a cream card cover and cream coloured plain paper. I prefer dotted or plain paper in my work notebooks as it allows me to draw diagrams and note my thoughts down in a haphazard manner, ready for me to organise later. As a surgical trainee, diagrams are helpful to revise anatomy and the plain paper allows me to sketch things I've learnt from operations, clinic or in other scenarios. 

The spine has a stitched design which I personally like. It's always good to see the composition of a notebook and this one actually feels quite sturdy despite its minimalistic design. 

Each corner can be torn off if you'd like. The intended use for this notebook is as a day-per-page planner which is why the corners are perforated like this and also why it has 365 pages. 

In terms of how the paper performs with various types of ink... well, below is the evidence and all I'll say is that it seems to take fountain, gel, fineliner and highlighter very well with little to no show through at all. 

Overall, Midori goods are affordable but of a decent quality, look great and extremely functional. I'm excited to crack this notebook out in the next few months' or so (at least, that's the plan!). Let's see how that pans out! Sit tight for an update if that becomes a reality. 

17 Nov 2021

katie leamon lay flat 300 page notebooks

Between August 2019 - August 2020, I managed to use all 300 pages of a Katie Leamon lay flat notebook. You can see my initial post about it here and how it ended up here. Later on in this post, you'll see it even more battered than before. 

Since then, I've added another three to my collection and they all complement each other nicely in design. 

Ultimately, I think they are destined to be work notebooks due to the sheer number of blank pages which lend themselves nicely to drawings, random scribbles and just anything else I fancy jotting down. 

What I particularly like is how battered they can look after a lot of use. I'm someone who likes to see a sign of wear and tear as it shows that the item has been well used. I really like how the paper is ridiculously fountain pen-friendly (always a bonus) and has barely any showthrough at all. 

Honestly, I think these notebooks are underrated. They are a little pricey at £24.95 for the Heirloom ones (the floral ones) and £21.95 for the plain ones but for the sheer number of pages and its immediate ability to lay flat from day one, they are completely worth it to me. It'll take me a while to get through these three before I need to buy anymore though...

2 Nov 2021

keeping my bullet journal minimalistic

Some bullet journals that are shared online are so artistic, I can only envy their owners. Given time is a major constraint for me (along with artistic skills), my bullet journal remains as minimalistic as possible. This post is to show examples of this...! 

Minimalistic doesn't have to mean boring though I do seem to have a style. I've noticed that I need to make the separation of each day obvious so I do this by making the date larger in size compared to the day next to it. 

The other thing I like to do is have solid black boxes so that I can use a white gel pen to make it pop. This can be seen below. I also clearly separated each day with a solid fine line. 

Occasionally, I'll throw in some colour and a little bit of artistic flair (or lack thereof). 

I find craft paper pretty good at adding something extra to my spreads. 

And instead of using a black fine line, I've used a colour line to emphasise a title here instead. 

More examples of my weekly spreads which are as minimalistic as possible. 

Ultimately, I've realised that I like clean lines and minimalism in my bullet journal. That said, I still try and add some minimalistic decor to it with filled in boxes, craft paper, occasional uses of colour (via Tombow brush pens). However, all I've got to offer is a pretty boring looking bullet journal but it functions excellently for me and that's what matters. (Can I get a cry laughing emoji?)

24 Oct 2021

work notebooks: staying analogue when everyone is going digital...

The last two hospitals I've worked at have had electronic systems for documenting and prescribing. As someone who loves pen and paper, this has been particularly tough on the soul! My way to combat this is to use a notebook for work-related things. This can range from audit work to jobs generated from clinics and conditions to read up on/things to revise. 

My two current notebooks of choice are one I received as a gift from my year out of training (it has a leather cover so makes me feel very posh!) and a Leuchtturm 1917. The Leuchtturm is great because of the elastic and means I can put little bits and bobs in the pocket at the back too. 

As my training specialty is changing curriculum shortly, I wanted to note down what this meant for any revision I was planning for the future. This can be seen below... 

Below is an example of something I looked up after encountering it in clinic. I used the glorious Cult Pens x Diamine Robert ink for it which made learning much more fun with its purple colour and green sheen. 

With the hours that I do coupled with the intensity of workload, putting pen to paper gives me a few moments of calm during the day. It also means I'm less likely to forget things. Clogging my phone with little bits and pieces is all well and good but I dread to think what would happen if my device were to break or run out of battery at a crucial moment. 

Work notebooks are interesting to look back at because it's a snapshot of what I was up to at that time. I'll be writing about one from a few years' ago at some point and that notebook looks properly battered and well-used. Flicking through it brought back many memories of that year and allowed me to see the evolution of my handwriting which is something that I would not get if I were to make notes on my phone.

15 Oct 2021

review of my 2020 bullet journal (july to december)

Considering I've now been bullet journaling for over a year, this post is a bit late. Can I blame it on the pandemic...?! 

Anyway, I first tried it out in July 2020 and used up a whole Papier notebook in the space of about 6 months. What I like about Papier is the ability to personalise and that's exactly what I did with this Miffy one. 

By the end of the six months, the notebook had expanded in density as you can see...

What I really liked about bullet journaling is the ability to make spreads that suit me. I also really liked that I could really do some trial and error with different layouts or designs each week. The other really good thing is that you can be as artistic or minimalistic as you like. I erred on the side of minimalistic with a dash of colour but ultimately, tried to stay as basic as possible. 

Although I could easily buy, for example, a Leuchtturm planner for the year, I often found pages were wasted as I don't need a world map or address section (not saying this is what Leuchtturms have - just some planners do). By using a bullet journal system, it allows all pages to be utilised in a way I would like, maximising productivity and also value for money with each notebook. Particularly important if you're opting for one on the pricier end of the spectrum. It also allows me to choose the paper in the notebook. 

As I've got older, I've appreciated reflecting a lot more. Each month, I will make a note of the days where there was exercise, books read and films/TV series watched amongst other things. Now, I often freestyle the reflection with anything I need to dump onto paper. 

It's quite nice to see when I've been most productive with exercise in particular because I got into running in December 2020 and since then, I've noticed my mood lifts on the days immediately after a run and vice versa. This has been particularly important lately as the days are now shorter which also often causes a mood dip in me. 

I've found a year to view not that helpful to be quite honest. That said, it's a spread I can't quite cut out yet as a planner doesn't feel like a planner without a year to view. 

I've been doing a 101 in 1,001 days challenge for a while now and I think I'm onto my third or fourth one? It's quite nice to have goals that require checking off as I'm very much a goal-oriented person. When I don't feel like I'm achieving, my motivation decreases. Therefore, having a challenge like this keeps me motivated in life. 

Overall, bullet journaling has been a success for me. I've enjoyed making my own spreads and customising my bullet journaling depending on what my current needs are. As convenient pre-printed planners are, there's something satisfying about creating your own planner. I'll likely do an update with my 2021 bullet journal at some point so sit tight for that to see how my spreads have evolved...! 

4 Oct 2021

what's in my bag #24: a small cross body bag

These are some of my favourite blog posts so of course, I had to kick off with another one in my return to blogging. Earlier this year, this bag caught my eye in the Smythson sale. I was on the lookout for a classic black mini cross-body bag which would last years and age well. However, I didn't want a brand that was common or mainstream and it also had to be within budget. I'd done an extra shift to pay for it so my budget was a decent one; though not massive. 

This bag fit the bill... It's small and can fit everything that I need on a daily basis. It's my new go-to on days off! 

Contents (top left, clockwise): fabric face-mask, house key, pocket tissues, chewing gum, purse and lip balm.
As you can see, I'm now carrying the bare minimum. I often put in a foldable tote bag too in case I go to the shops. During the summer months, it was a bit of a struggle as I like to carry a bottle of water because my blood pressure can dip when I'm dehydrated. To get around this problem, I'd just carry the bottle in my hands or if it's small enough, it can fit at the bottom of the bag but horizontally. Because so little is in the bag usually, there's usually enough room for a 500mL bottle. 

24 Sept 2021

review: galen leather notebook cover and the everyday book (plus a discount code!)

In the last ten years or so, the quality and variety of notebooks available for fountain pen users has increased vastly. There's also been a shift to higher quality materials from what I've seen online and in person. One such company which marries the two very well is the family-run Galen Leather Co. who are based in Turkey. The pandemic caused a shift in my purchasing habits and anything family-run and not owned by a mega corp have instantly caught my attention and my support. I suppose it's seeing the demise of the traditional high street which has altered my mentality and there is now a conscious effort to try and source things as locally as possible. 

Anyway! Galen Leather Co was started by Zeynep and is now run by her brother and husband. Her story can be found here and I have to warn you, have some tissues at bay. She sounds like an amazing and inspirational lady who saw the best in everything - a quality we can all learn to have. 

I hope I can do her and Galen Leather justice with this review as I have to warn you, it is overwhelmingly positive. Just look at the contents below: it's the little touches that count and the pouch containing some samples of Turkish coffee and teas with a little tag about Galen themselves is truly heartwarming. 

Onto two Galen products. The first one is the Leather Slim A5 Notebook Cover. At the time of writing, they are priced at an extremely reasonable £33 and they come in a neat little box. 

Within the box, there is the cover itself, a card detailing the colour and who made the cover, along with care instructions. There's also a postcard with a handwritten message on the reverse. 

The cover smells delightful and is buttery soft. I can imagine it ageing extremely well and becoming even softer and more characterful with time and use. The quality is divine and feels like it would hold up well to daily use. 

On the inside, there is a card slot on both sides of the cover and also a pen loop. 

And at the reverse, we see the Galen Leather Co stamp in case anyone asks you where it's from so they can get one of their own. It comes in a whole host of classy colours including navy, 'crazy horse' navy blue /brown/forest green/tan/grey as well as in the sizes A5, B6 or A6. 

The Everyday Book in A5 fits perfectly in the A5 leather cover shown above. It comes in a box with a magnetic closure which makes ideal as place to file away documents/papers/anything else you wanted. At £23 for 400 pages of 52gsm Tomoe River Paper, it represents pretty good value. 

And just look at the paper in all its glory. It comes with writing guides as well so no excuses for wonky note taking! 

We all know that the usual reason for buying Tomoe River Paper is for the fountain pen benefits and it doesn't disappoint here... Of course there's significant show through with the permanent fineliner but otherwise, it performs as expected. 

Overall, Galen Leather Co is a family-run company who produce leather and notebook products of the highest quality. If you're after something a bit different or a gift for a stationery-lover, you won't be disappointed. 

If you're tempted, Galen are currently offering a 5% discount using the code WELCOME5.

Disclaimer: The products reviewed are complimentary direct from Galen Leather Co in exchange for a review. However, the review is an honest one and written as if I had bought the products personally.