Ponderings

Adventures in Stationery by James Ward: Book Review

I have had the Adventures in Stationery book on my shelf for some time and have been really slow in getting round to actually reading it. Wards aptly named book goes through his stationery experiences. It’s nice to read a book written by a Brit as I can easily relate to a lot of his stationery experiences, however I have to admit I was quite disappointed with this book. I thought I would really geek out reading this but that didn't happen.

This book does have the odd relatable chapter. I enjoyed finding out the back story of Tipp-Ex and how this product came about. Similarly the chapter on pencils was very interesting. The one chapter that I thought I would enjoy was the back to school chapter. This is where the addiction starts for most of us after all and it’s a period I remember well. I had a Pepsi pencil case at one point and definitely spent a ridiculous amount of time in my local WHSmith trying to pick out the right stationery for the year. But I felt a little let down by this chapter expecting to read more on Wards experiences. However it quickly progressed onto the Helix story and Wards handwriting development through school. My experience was different to Wards, we moved from the Staedtler Noris pencil onto a Parker Vector fountain pen. Berol handwriting pens didn’t make an appearance for me.

This is one small example of my feelings towards Wards book. The thing is I just found it a little dull. It explored quite a bit of how certain stationery items came about, which at some point could be useful, but right now I didn’t find it very interesting. On top of this the layout of Wards book doesn’t really work for me. A format similar to the new Stationery Fever book could have worked really well. If you are interested in reading this book I would recommend just dipping in and out concentrating on the various chapters which you find interesting. Reading it front to back is pretty tough going.

2017 Stationery Resolutions

A selection of some of the stationery items on my desk

A selection of some of the stationery items on my desk

I have come across a few blog posts over the past few weeks looking at 2017 stationery related resolutions. The Pen Addict covered this in their most recent episode, Priya from The London Parchment shared her resolutions for 2017 so I thought it would be fun to make my own list. I have shared here my planner plans for 2017, but stationery resolutions are something quite different.

My 2017 Stationery Resolutions

  1. Learn brush lettering - I have a few brush pens which I have been playing around with for a little while but this year I want to really hone in on this and practice my lettering. I am always in awe of well lettered envelopes and cards therefore 2017 will be the year I implement this myself.
  2. Sketch - this is something I had started in 2016 and I have enjoyed it. I have taken a sketch book with my on a few short trips away and on the odd occasion drawn something memorable from the trip. Copying Liz Steele I would then date the sketch and add a small bit of information about it. This year I really want to make this a real practice. Looking back on the simple sketches I have done I really like the way the sketch book tells a story. The sketches within them are really not great, the scales are all off, my watercolour skills are dire but despite this I like looking back through the sketches I have done.
  3. Consume more - I have a lot of stationery, so with this in mind this year I want to actually use what I own, rather than just buy more.
  4. Use a bottle of fountain pen ink - I liked this idea from Brad on the most recent Pen Addict episode therefore I thought I would take this one on myself. I don’t have a specific bottle of ink in mind any bottle will do.
Waddesdon Manor sketch  

Waddesdon Manor sketch  

These resolutions are purely made for fun, but I will review them at the end of the year and see if I achieved any of them. I’d love to hear any stationery resolutions you may have made this year, please share them in the comments below.

A Different Kind of Side Project

Like many people I have always had a couple of side projects that sit outside of my regular day job. Over the past few years this has been predominately The Finer Point and my part-time studying, both of which have taken up a large chunk of my spare time.

Over the past few months I have been working on an additional, slightly different kind of side project, which has not been visible to my digital world but the time has come to perhaps share as it impacts things in the short term here.

A week ago today my husband and I welcomed our first child (or stationery addict) into this world. It has been a week of combinations; welcoming our son has been magical, brilliant and totally overwhelming but we have also had one of the toughest of weeks due to some complications I experienced. Everything is now fine.

Due to this side project and being a total newbie, things over the next few weeks won't follow the same format whilst I settle in to motherhood. There will be a little less content, however fear not I am not disappearing! Reviews, posts and my thoughts on stationery will continue once I get settled into my new routine.

Thanks for the continued support of The Finer Point, regular programming will resume shortly.

My Journaling Habits

My main journaling tools 

My main journaling tools 

Journaling has been part of my daily ritual for some time. Ever since becoming engrossed in paper and writing implements a few years ago I have found different ways to journal. Curiosity lead me to search online, find blogs and Instagram feeds for inspiration. This has developed my journaling habits to where they are today, a very different place to where I started.

In many of my previous posts I have in some way outlined how I use various different tools, specifically paper. You can find two previous posts here and here. However since then I have changed up the way I am journaling based on the tools I enjoy the most. This post will give an outline of my current journaling habits.

Daily Recording

A simpler spread in my Midori 019 refill

A simpler spread in my Midori 019 refill

I like to record a snippet of my day, big or small. Last year I had been using my Hobonichi Techo to do this, however I now use my Travelers Notebook and the Midori 019 refill. This refill is an undated planner that I use to note down a few small details of my day. Sometimes I include some sort of ephemera, other times it’s purely writing on a page with no decoration. I have found that this format of daily journaling has stuck because it’s easy to do and I can commit to it. You aren’t overwhelmed by a large space on the page and pressure to fill it with something meaningful. A few simple lines will do.

And something with a bit more decoration

And something with a bit more decoration

For those times when I do need more space or have something special to record I use a blank Midori insert. I have been using this as a travel journal, a daily journal and somewhere I can try and be a bit creative with watercolours, doodles and washi. A lot of my journaling in this insert has been inspired by various different YouTube videos and Instagram accounts.

A bit of travel journaling from a recent trip to the Isle of Wight

A bit of travel journaling from a recent trip to the Isle of Wight

My deviation to the Travelers Notebook for journaling means that my Hobonichi Techo has fallen by the wayside. I found I was repeating myself in the two notebooks and at times I couldn’t fill the larger Hobonichi Techo pages - I was just going through the motions. I really enjoyed my Hobonichi Techo last year but as things stand at the moment I cannot see myself finding a use for this planner again this year.

Organisation and planning

The notebooks I use for organisation and planning also take a form of journaling. They are records of things I have done on a specific day or week and can be reviewed in a similar way to my journal. At the moment I have two systems, the first one is specifically related to organising everything related to my blog and studying. For that task I use the Midori 017 free monthly diary and a Keep a Notebook ruled insert. The calendar allows me to schedule posts and plan the time I need for homework. It gives me an overview of the month and from here I can plan out when I need to get things done. I find the monthly one page view really helpful in organising both of these side projects that I have outside of my day to day work.

My calendar view for my studying and blog activity

My calendar view for my studying and blog activity

The Keep a Notebook insert is where I capture blog post ideas and plan them out. I write down the main points I want to cover within each post and list out the photos I want to take. This system works really well and also acts as a capturing tool. I know by using this one notebook I have everything in one place. These two refills are housed in my brown Travelers Notebook and sit on my desk.

Blog post brain dumping 

Blog post brain dumping 

The second, and newest element of my planning, is the Bullet Journal. This is a new system for me and provides me a weekly and daily view of my tasks. This captures everything from when a post will go live that week through to my household chores and any personal or social events. The thing I have found really useful with the Bullet Journal set up so far is sitting down on a Sunday and thinking about my upcoming week. I can essentially empty my head getting all the boring and mundane things that are part of everyday life written down in the Bullet Journal. From there I can figure out what I can do when and try and make sure I don’t miss anything. As I said this is the newest part of my personal organisation but so far this is working well and I hope it is something I can keep up as I think it is helping me to become more organised.

My dailies in my Bullet Journal 

My dailies in my Bullet Journal 

On the go journaling

I have one final form of journaling but this takes a more relaxed format. I use my current everyday carry pocket notebook for writing down a stream of consciousness whilst on the move. I am currently using the Baron Fig Explorer Apprentice notebook in my passport Travelers Notebook. I work from the back of my notebook so that these small journaling entries are kept together. The front of my notebook is then used in the normal way. Entries are usually small notes about how I may be feeling or a little rant about something. Some days I don’t write down anything, other days I write down quite a bit. It's a very simple, no rules style of journaling.

Journaling on the go

Journaling on the go

My thoughts on my journaling habits

I wish I was a person who was able to have fewer organisation and planning systems and find a way to incorporate these things into one, but honestly I am not sure it would be possible. I could perhaps use my Travelers Notebook as a Bullet Journal which would mean one less notebook, but would increase the number of inserts I am carrying, therefore the benefit would be minimal. At the moment this is the set-up that is working for me. Most of these notebooks stay on my desk and I am not burdened with carrying them around. The one notebook that comes with me at all times is my passport Travelers Notebook.

Whilst arguably there is duplication here, all of these systems mean I get to enjoy the tools I love using. Each one enables me to play with something different. My Travelers Notebook and the Midori paper lets me experiment with my fountain pens and ink, the Bullet Journal and the Leuchtturm1917 notebook allows me to use fineliners and gel pens. I guess it’s not all about efficiency, it’s also about having some fun with pens and paper. It’s become a way for me to unwind and relax each day and that is something to be valued.