Wish List: Chalk Hill Studio Notebooks

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I am always on the lookout for new gifts, for myself and others (particularly in the run up to Christmas) and came across this beautiful selection of notebooks and sketchbooks at Chalk Hill Studios made by artist Karen Jinks.

(Photo Credit: Chalk Hill Studios)

Totally in love with the forget-me-not’s design (my favourite flower) and these sketchbooks are most definitely a potential Christmas gift for my mother. Check out the website – you will fall in love.

Christmas Cards: Getting ahead of the game

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When I read that only 6% of sales from charity cards actually go to charity in yesterday’s metro, I was absolutely appalled. WhSmith’s topped the chart giving away 20-100%  to charity followed by Asda at 50%. However, reading this also made me groan “Christmas already!!”.

However, the matter of Christmas cards has been quite topical in work today. With the current postal strike (and more on the way) it is no wonder that everyone is thinking that the Christmas backlog and potential walkout will be terrible. Question of the Day: Does this mean people will send cards earlier, or not send them at all?

Some colleagues are going for the rather cheap and impersonal option of sending an email/ecard with a family snapshot. There was one time I thought these were a novel idea, but now I’d rather not receive a card. Maybe this is just because I lack the accomplishments to brag about in response to the self important letter that normally accompanies such cards, but reading about how great various family members of people I barely know are, has never increased my holiday spirit.

Sending cards earlier means you need to be prepared earlier, the bug of organisation is catching on aseveryone is talking about Christmas and we’ve yet to have Halloween and Bonfire night. So how early is early? My mother buys her cards in the January Sales and they are all ready to go on the first of December (along with the tree, fairy lights, fake snow and whatever other goodies are stashed in her attic).  If one is not as organised as my mother and still needs to buy Christmas cards there is a surprisingly good selection available already. I usually buy my cards from Paperchase. However this year I have recommended both Charity Cards and Funky Pigeon by friends so may give them a go.

Charity cards gives you a wide range of options from personalised cards, to single cards to  charity packs (you can choose by charity) and UK shipping charges are determined by weight but a standard pack will be under £2, so in total most packs will come to £5-£6 inc postage. Personalised cards are more expensive with a minimum order of 20 cards, and so they are priced at 95p per card if it has text and a photo (75p per card if text only).

Funky Pigeon provides a wider range of cards and  also sell a wide range of gifts and calendars as well. However, Funky Pigeon provides a personalised card service rather than simply selling other simple options you would find on the high street. However, they are pretty special cards and some of them look beautiful – great if you want to give a card with something extra. The site is easy to use and you don’t even have to register for an account if you don’t want to.  Single personalised cards are mostly priced at £2.99 for an A5 sized card. You can then write a message outside and inside the card whatever way you like. The card can either be sent to you with a blank envelope, or alternatively you can choose to send the card directly to the recipient. You can then choose the delivery date etc and standard first class post is 47p (next day delivery is around £5). A pack of personalised cards (usually 12 cards)  is priced at £15.99 and delivery is £2.95.

If you really do want to be an early bird when it comes to cards myvouchercodes is offering a 30% discount on Funky pigeon if you order before 22 Nov.

Signature Collection

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I had great visions of doing a proper notebook shopping trip when I discovered I needed a notebook to use as a log book for my sign language classes. Unfortunately rainy weather put my plans on hold and today I found myself picking up a notebook in the train station.

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Signature, in case you’ve not come across it before is WH Smith’s own brand moleskine-alike notebook  available in a range of sizes and colours. The one I bought is the A5 (known as large) brown notebook, priced at £9.99. My favoured colour however is that of mulberry –  beautiful notebook, but unfortunately they were sold out.

It is a soft covered, very flexible, giving it a nice worn feel even though you still have that pristine paper feel, best of both worlds. It is narrow ruled which may put some people off, but I think it works beautifully, the paper is 80gsm quality paper, has a nice smooth feel, for those of you who need to like the touch sensation like me. I have not tried out a fountain pen on the paper being more of a bic pen user of late but I believe most pens are fine, although some fountain pens go through. But as I’ve only begun to use this notebook today, I’ll let you know how it develops.

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Royal Mail: Inspiration Notebook

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With the pending postal strikes from Royal Mail I thought it might be nice to look back to a time when I remember Royal Mail to be reliable.

I bought this little red “royal mail” notebook entitled “thoughts ideas and actions” in a second hand bookshop or charity shop about 10 years ago. To this date it is one of my favourite notebooks, providing lots of inspiration. It could be argued that it is not strictly speaking a notebook, but the principle is the same – it is to encourage people to write.

Inside the notebook is a wide range of postcards, coloured paper and inspirational messages and quotes to fit various moods and occasions.  A great idea and a great product. I don’t think they do anything like this now, although they still do a great range of fun stamps.

I will keep a look out for similar products, as there seems to be a gap in the market.

Wish List: Poem

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Design House Stockholm brings us the Poem Cup and Saucer (49EUR) available online and from a number of UK stockists.

I love tea, I’m addicted to it ever second of every day particularly while I’m writing  and I think that  this is a cool design. Shame it doesn’t come in any other colours, the green is a bit pale for me.

Alife B6 planner

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This Alife planner was just something I picked up in the Bargain Bucket in Paperchase. This notebook has a PVC enamel covering and is available in a variety of colours.

What is so great about this notebook is that it is made to be functional – with a variety of pages, labelled on the front as: Free Writing 176 pages, Free Drawing 196 Pages, Memo 16 pages, Information archive 16 pages. It also has plastic pockets in the over to place loose bits of paper (and in my case souvenir beer mats).The notebook is incredibly durable and survived a month backpacking round Europe.

There are many specialised travel journals out there, but I found that this notebook suited my needs more as I could tailor it to suit me.

I planned my journey in the free writing section, detailing the cities I was going to and mapped out locations of hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions. The perfect way to cut down from a full-on travel book. The other sections are suitable for diary entries, keep track of you holiday budget, keeping your souvenirs and  keeping note of information.

Notebooks: Ladybird Books

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As a kid I had the complete Vintage Ladybird Collection – in true organisational and childlike fashion my collection was numbered, colour coded and stickered with my name. So when I saw notebooks in the style of Ladybird books (similar to my penguin book notebook) I had to have one.

I originally saw hardback Little Red Riding Hood notebooks (£8.95) in Vinegar Hill last week which I was considering but I ended up ordering a paperback version of Puss in Boots online at Kiss Me Kwik for £3.99 (plus £1 P&P), which arrived a few days later.

The notebook is the same size as the actual vintage books, and you have to properly crease the notebook open to write inside. The pages are plain rather than lined, but are thick quality and smooth to write and draw on. Looking forward to enjoying this notebook on the train tomorrow.