Murano glass pen

My sister went to Italy a few weeks ago, and one of the places she visited was Venice. Whilst there, she bought me a small Murano glass pen in red and gold.

Murano glass pen 1

This is my third glass pen.  I’ve reviewed my mini one on here previously, and my other one is a standard size red and clear striped one made by J.Herbin which I don’t think I’ve ever featured on here.

Murano glass pen 5

The pen is made by hand and has a slight bend in the nib.

Murano glass pen 2

I find glass pens a bit messy to work with (is it because I’m left-handed, or just messy?), so I don’t use them often.   However, they’re fun to play with when you’re testing inks, as you can just dip and go!

Murano glass pen 3

Obviously I used this photo session as a chance to play with my Emerald of Chivor ink again!

Murano glass pen 4

I didn’t know what to write, but I was listening to that Up song by Olly Murs and Demi Lovato (it’s very catchy!) so I wrote a lyric from it.

Do you own a glass pen?  They’re fun to play with, but there is skill to using them correctly and it takes practice.

Daily arsenal: my pencil case

After I showed you all of my fountain pens a few weeks ago, I thought I’d show you my daily arsenal. This is everything that I carry in my pencil case when I’m out of the house (at work mainly).

The pencil case I’m currently using is an Iconic retro orange pencil case. It has two deep pouches for pens and two small mesh pouches for little bits and pieces. It’s pretty great, but I do overfill mine and as a result it’s bit fat and bumpy when it’s closed!What's in my pencil case Aug 2015

1. This pen actually died today. Haha.  It was a Uni-ball Eye in black ink.  I have loads of these.  I used to use them at school sometimes and they’re great pens.

2. My coral Lamy Safari.  Currently inked with the matching Lamy ink.

3. A Berol fine nib black felt tip. Just because.

4. My green Parker Vector.  Also ran out of ink today, weirdly.  Was inked with J. Herbin Stormy grey.  Will probably now get inked with the Emerald of Chivor.

5. Lamy Safari pencil in red. I’ve never written about this pencil on here, according to my archives. Odd.

6. A yellow felt tip.

7. A Palomino Blackwing 602 pencil.  The ferrari of pencils.

8. My Iconic felt pens (I have the standard set and the pastel set).

9. My mini Victorinox penknife.

10. Figs and Rouge lip balm.

Not numbered in the pencil case are a couple of set squares (straight edges for doodling), a hair tie, an Avengers comic card of the whole team and a black rubber.

And that is everything I carry with me every day!

Product review: Weleda Skin Food

Weleda Skin Food

I have a product review for you today, of Weleda Skin Food.  I tend not to review many beauty products on here, although I do have a tag for it so maybe I should make more of an effort.  I love buying beauty products, but because I’m a) rather lazy about make-up and fashion in general, and b) try to avoid stuff with lots of man-made chemicals, I tend to think there is little point in me reviewing them.  After all, there are a gazillion beauty blogs out there doing a much better job already!

Having said all of that, Weleda Skin Food is really good so I wanted to tell you about it.  I’ve been using the cream on my hands.  I don’t really get dry skin in general, but because I do a lot of gardening and washing I tend to buy heavy duty hand creams.  Another blogger had mentioned this cream and said how amazing it was (I forget who it was, sorry) so I thought I’d try it.  It is so rich and creamy.  I love it!  If you hate greasy hand creams, you will not like this, but for those of you like me who love a thick hand cream that feels like it’s doing some work – this is for you!

The only thing I dislike about this cream is the smell.  As with all Weleda products, it’s made with herbs and flowers, and this particular cream has a weird herby medicinal smell.  I don’t know what it is, but I don’t like it.  However, after using the cream for a few days I’ve decided that I can live with the smell because I love how soft my hands are.

Since we’re now coming into winter, I recommend you start shopping around for a good hand cream if you haven’t already, and this should be at the top of your list!  (As it’s marketed as an all-purpose cream rather than a hand cream, don’t forget you can use it for any problem skin.)

Attic 24 cosy stripe blanket crochet project

I have accidentally started a new crochet project.  I had already bought yarn for the project I was going to start when I’d finished my grey circles blanket (I blogged about the yarn here), but then my friend was starting a new project and kept sending me patterns, and I couldn’t resist!

Attic 25 cosy stripe blanket project 1

The pattern I’m using is the Attic 24 cosy stripe blanket, which is on the Attic 24 blog.  It’s a simple pattern, and because it’s worked in rows it feels like it grows quickly (in contrast, making individual squares feels like it takes forever!).

Attic 25 cosy stripe blanket project 4

I’ve bought more yarn since starting the project.  I thought the Attic 24 cosy stripe blanket would look better if it was wide (double bed size really) due to the weight of yarn I’m using, and originally I’d only bought seven colours for the blanket I’d planned to make.  I’ve since added a denim blue and a purple to my colour palette, which will look good I think. That brings the total number of colours to nine, and I shall use them in a random order.

Attic 25 cosy stripe blanket project 3

I’m using aran weight yarn, which also means it grows quickly because the stitches are larger than with a DK yarn.  I am a fan of using aran weight yarns for crochet blanket projects, and I recommend it if you’re new to crochet.  However, you just need to remember that aran weight yarn is chunkier than DK yarn, and as a result it can make blankets quite heavy.  That doesn’t bother me (in fact I find the weight quite reassuring), but if you want a lightweight blanket or are making something for a baby you’ll need to use a different yarn.

Attic 25 cosy stripe blanket project 2

Unfortunately, the yarn I’m using (Drops Nepal) is not machine washable.  This is because I’m an idiot and forgot to check before ordering.  I do normally make sure I can wash the yarn easily, but I’ll have to live with it this time round.  It’s lovely and soft so it does have that going for it!

A rainy link share for you

I’m writing this link share on the assumption that it will be raining when you read it, since it’s very wet this week!  I hope you enjoy the links included!

  • Four ways to be a more effective version of yourself. I can’t really expand more on that title, so go read the suggestions.
  • I’ve probably shared something similar to this post in the past, but darn it if someone hasn’t gone and written an article about it again: the 20 most beautiful minerals and stones in the world. Nature is so awesome!
  • This is a really long but really important piece in The Atlantic about the most effective ways of supporting charity and good causes. I donate a lot to charity and to a degree the system in the UK supports this: charities have to be registered on the Charity Commission database (a Government register) and annual reports and accounts have to be submitted as part of charity law. This means for anyone wishing to support a charity it’s easy to check whether they’re legal (i.e. registered), what their income is and how they spend it. However, you still have to make a personal decision as to whether to support particular projects.
  • I seem to be developing a theme at the moment: this is another article about what you’re supposed to do after you’ve decluttered your life, and how decluttering itself won’t suddenly make you satisfied and happy. You still have to work out your goals afterwards!
  • I think in future when people complain about the price of something that I think doesn’t cost enough (e.g. clothes, food) I shall point them to this article: We are rich because they are poor.
  • I only discovered Melanie’s blog a few months ago, but since then I have read most of her archives (stalker!), and I love this article she wrote about what small living means to her. Yet another link I’m sharing which talks about intentional living!
  • This is an article from a guy who owns a hotel business, about what hotels expect you will steal and how they feel about it. It’s a great read! And it’s good to know that hotels assume you’ll take all the toiletries!
  • Exile Lifestyle wrote a great article about how minimalism sometimes focusses too much on the “stuff” aspect of life rather than the intentional living part of life. Intentional living is far more important than being able to fit all your belongs in one rucksack.
  • This blogger is half way through a two year long shopping ban, which is quite epic. Here is an article on her review of the first year, including a list of the 8 items she bought during the year. Epic!
  • 100% this. I’m not buying your trousers if they have no pockets, or worse: fake pockets. I have pocket needs just like a man!
  • I read a lot on my iPhone, so this article in the Wall Street Journal about the rise of phone reading does not surprise me at all.  Reading on your phone is just super convenient.
  • I like this quote. In fact, I like it so much that I made a new screensaver for my phone with it.

Have a lovely day.

Latest tea reviews

I’ve been experimenting a lot with different tea leaves in the last few months, trying to learn about the different varieties available and making decisions about what I like.  I’ve been a bit indifferent to most the teas I’ve tried though so none of them have really inspired me to write a review.

On the whole, I’ve established that I’m not really a fussy tea drinker. I like my tea to be brewed properly, and I like it to be ethically sourced, but I don’t seem to have many preferences over the leaves themselves. I guess I will never be a proper tea snob.

Chinese tea

A friend bought me this pack in Sri Lanka.  The teas are boring, but aren’t the little cardboard boxes cute!

I placed an order with the Kent & Sussex Tea Company in order to try some of the teas that they have for sale.  I quite like finding random little tea companies on the web to try out, and this one was no exception. The prices are fair and they have a good range on offer.  [By the way, you should click on that link even if you don’t want to order tea or coffee, as the company has been running for generations and they have family photos of their lives, including people on elephants!]

I bought the Scottish Breakfast tea to try, but I don’t really see why it is any different to the English and Irish breakfast teas I’ve previously tried. I’ve thus moved on to trying specific leaves to see what I like. On the whole, I am an Assam person I think. I’ve tried a couple of Ceylon teas, including the interestingly titled Lover’s Leap (named after a cliff on the estate that rejected lovers threw themselves off). Whilst they are nice, I think the Assam teas have a stronger flavour.

A farm shop near me is now selling some teas blended in Suffolk I think (I wrote a note somewhere and have now lost it), so I’ll be trying some of those teas soon.  In town a tea shop has opened that sells loose leaf teas, according to rumour (I haven’t been) so I need to go investigate that some time too!

As it’s been so wintery this week, I’ve also had a craving for the Tea Pigs chocolate tea.  I don’t really care for Tea Pigs in general, but no-one makes as good a chocolate tea as they do so I might place an order soon in time for autumn!

Have you drunk any good teas lately?  I love a good recommendation!

6th handmade top – red tree top

I’ve now completed my 6th handmade top project. Yey! I still enjoy making my own clothes – it’s so fun! I had a problem in the middle of the make where I broke my sewing machine, but after a week on hiatus my sewing machine and I were able to finish the project (I had a problem with my bobbin outer casing that was causing the needle to jam, but I spoke to a helpful Singer man who helped me repair it).

Red tree top

The fabric is a quilting cotton, so I guess is heavier than normal dressmaking cotton. However, this is a top for work so I wanted it to look more shirt-like and smart. Also, how adorable is the print! I can’t find it in the shop any more so I assume it’s sold out. I think I bought it last year.

Red tree top 2

The pattern I used is the New Look NL6187 Misses’ pullover patten, but I made it a bit longer because the original in their pattern had lace trimmings.  As usual, the pattern instructions are essentially gibberish if you have no idea what you’re doing, so I don’t recommend trying the pattern if you’ve never sewn a top before.  If you are a complete beginner, I recommend going with an independent designer as their pattern guides tend to be much more detailed.

I didn’t assemble the top in the order the pattern recommended.  I hemmed the bottom of the top before tackling the sleeves, and I hemmed the sleeves before placing them.

Overall, I love this top but the pattern was a pain and I’m not sure I’d make it again.  For my next project, I’ve got my eye on a few patterns and I’d like to try some different fabrics, so I don’t really know where my inspiration will take me next!

All my fountain pens

As I’ve streamlined my fountain pen collection over the years, I thought I’d show you every fountain pen that I currently own. If you’ve been following this blog for a number of years, my collection is almost completely unrecognisable now, as so many pens have gone off to new homes (I mostly sold them on eBay or through the blog).  My last post with an update on my collection was in July 2013!

All my fountain pens

That is every fountain pen I have! I’ve reduced my collection to almost a third what it was at the peak of my buying days! I’ve chatted about each pen below so you can see how I’m currently using it.

Sailor nib

1. Sailor recycled materials pen

I reviewed this pen on my blog back in 2011.  Since then, the pen has become quite marked and tatty as I use it a lot.  It’s not inked right now.  You can see in the photo above that some of the gloss is going on the pen barrel due to the battering it’s taken.  I love the nib of this pen though, and I think I ought to start looking for a more expensive version of an extra fine nib that can survive my daily use.

Lamy 1.1 nib

2. Lamy Safari in neon coral

My favourite Lamy Safari, in neon coral.  I haven’t reviewed it on here but I did share some photos when I bought it.  I’m currently using this pen with the neon coral ink that Lamy made (love it!).  I’m using the Lamy 1.1 nib, which I also love.  It’s a wet nib and you can see that it gets dirty with inks.

3. Parker Vector

This the patterned Parker Vector fountain pen that I mentioned in my post on sentimental pens.  I still own the pen for sentimentality, but it’s not inked.

Parker italic nib

4. Parker Vector

This was the other Vector that was in my post on sentimental pens.  I’ve swapped the medium nib it had for an italic nib, and I’m using it with J. Herbin’s Stormy Grey ink.

Platinum F nib

5. Platinum Kanazawa-Haku Fountain Pen

I’ve written about this pen on my blog many times before.  I love it – both the design and the nib.

Pilot F nib

6. Pilot Kakuno

Finally, my Pilot Kakuno fountain pen.  A cheap pen, but fun to have around.  I’ve noticed that it’s quite a wet pen, and I don’t like it with the standard Pilot ink cartridges you can get as I think it feathers a lot, but I’m happier now its inked with a J. Herbin ink.

Aug 2015 ink tests

So, here are the four pens I have inked up at the moment.  Two 1.1 nibs and two fine nibs.  I guess my taste is fairly consistent!

I have got my eye on some new fountain pens at the moment, but I don’t really need another pen so I’m trying to be good…. (It won’t last!)

Photo a day for July 2015

I’ve been a bit slow to share my photo a day project for July.  I’m still plodding along with my 365 day photo project!

PAD July 2015

I was saving the bee in photo 4, not drowning it.  I gave it a plate of sugar water, and it did fly away in the end :)

I also photographed my shed in day 3 because I painted it cream (it used to be blue).  Doesn’t it look snazzy in cream and pink!

Funny that both the start and end of the month feature photographs of cups of tea!  You can view all the photos from my photo a day project on Flickr.

J. Herbin 1670 Emerald of Chivor ink

This post is basically just going to feature lots of ink p0rn, so if you think inks are boring you should probably just click the X and come back tomorrow :P

J. Herbin 1670 Emerald of Chivor ink 1

If you have known me for a few years, you’ll know that I love a good turquoise ink, but that I’m also fussy about what I consider a good turquoise.  I don’t want a light blue ink, people, I want the colour of tropical oceans and mermaid tails.  J. Herbin‘s Emerald of Chivor ink was basically made for me.

J. Herbin 1670 Emerald of Chivor ink 2

I am so in love with this ink, and I am sad that it is limited edition.  Maybe I should buy all the bottles now so I never run out (I’m not actually going to do that because hoarding is bad!).

J. Herbin 1670 Emerald of Chivor ink 3

The bottle is the same design as the other 1670 limited edition inks that J. Herbin make.  To be honest, I think the wax around the screw cap is a silly adornment, but I put up with it because it’s what’s inside that counts.

J. Herbin 1670 Emerald of Chivor ink 4

Look at how shimmery and beautiful it looks in its bottle.

J. Herbin 1670 Emerald of Chivor ink 5

All my fountain pens are currently inked up, so I’ve not been able to use the ink properly yet.  However, I tested it with my glass pen, which runs a little wet sometimes but in this case really shows off the shimmer in the ink (as long as you shake the bottle often, otherwise was the gold settles to the bottom of the bottle).

J. Herbin 1670 Emerald of Chivor ink 6

Look at how beautiful the ink is!  Seriously, I am so in love with it!  I can’t wait to have it in a fountain pen.

I bought the ink from Bureau Direct for £14.95.  If you want it, buy it quickly as it keeps selling out.  Azizah over at Gourmet Pens has posted lots of photos of the ink too, if you want another look.  She has managed to bring out the red shimmer flecks which are also apparently in the ink, but which I’ve not been able to see.

In summary, this is my favourite ink ever, in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD.