Friday, 29 September 2017

Planner Friday - September

Planner Friday has rolled around again and my latest post is now up on the Trendy Twine blog.  Please pop over and say hi!

Hello!  There are only a few days of September left and I am so excited for October and Halloween!  I love having spooky fun with my family throughout the month, we watch scary movies, carve pumpkins, put creepy decorations up and sort out costumes for trick or treating.  I thought I'd create a Halloween theme for my planner pages too with some of my APB stamps!

Products used:

My October at a glance

The first thing I did for this monthly spread was to colour in any special days, these are my husband's days off work, Halloween (of course!) and the half term school holiday.  Then I used the At Home and School Days stamp sets to add in bills due, reminders and my children's after school clubs.  Because this is just an overview for October I don't have to put too much detail into it, I mainly use it to see how my month looks as a whole and how busy I am going to be.  Thankfully it doesn't look to crazy at the moment! 

Frankenstein and vampire bat treats...

You can read the rest of my post here and thanks for stopping by!

Monday, 25 September 2017

Artline Monday - Thinking of you week

Have you heard of Thinking of you week?  I can't believe it is in it's fourth year and I have only just learned about it!  The idea behind this special week is to create a wave of love and happiness by sending greeting cards, letters and notes to people to let them know you care.  The good news is you don't have to wait to grab your pens and other stationery bits, the week starts today!

I have always been a fan of letter writing and love it when I see a handwritten envelope arrive through the letter box.  The majority of my post is bills, leaflets and marketing materials so receiving a card or letter always brightens my day!  It is nice to get a text, a message or email from friends but post is extra special, someone has taken the time to put pen to paper and get in touch which leaves me feeling happy and positive.  If you want to spread a little happiness too this week is the perfect time to do it.

Here are some ideas to celebrate Thinking of you week...

Send a card and put a smile on someone's face!

You could send a greeting card to someone special just to let them know you are thinking about them.  If you have some fun stamps like this gold star one you can make plain envelopes look more exciting!

Spread a little happiness with greeting cards and fun stamps

Write a letter to a friend

Why don't you send a letter to one of your friends?  If you are like me then you might be hoarding some lovely writing paper and envelopes, break them out and put them to use!  

Find yourself a penpal

If you like the idea of having a penpal there are lots of groups on Facebook dedicated to helping you find someone to exchange letters with all over the world or hit google and see what website are available.

Send a drawing or postcard

If you have children why not get them to send a picture or postcard to someone they care about?  I'm sure their Nanny, Grandad, Aunt, Uncle or best friend would love a little surprise in the mail from them!

My daughter's seascape drawing for someone special

Write a note

Another idea for children is to pop a little note in their school or lunch bag for them to find later.  It could be a joke, a silly poem or just wishing them a good day at school.  If your note is going in with their lunch make sure you use a waterproof pen like this Artline Supreme permanent marker so it will still be readable if anything leaks or spills!  If you want you can add some stickers or extra decoration with a metallic pen like the Artline 900XF, I love how well pink and silver go together.

My note and Artline pens

Did you already know about Thinking of you week?  Will you be joining in and sending some surprises out in the mail?  Studies have shown that receiving a handwritten card, letter or note has an emotional impact which makes people feel far more special and cared for and I think that is a beautiful thing!  Let's get writing!

Friday, 15 September 2017

Artline Monday - Hand lettering and calligraphy

Earlier in the year I was bitten by the lettering bug and ever since then I have been trying to improve my writing and learn how to do calligraphy again.  I used to be quite good at it when I was younger, I had a set with different colour inks and assorted nibs but I got out of the habit and I'd forgotten the basics so I had to start again from the beginning.  I would definitely say that I am still a novice but I do have some tips for you today if you fancy giving it a go.

Created using Artline calligraphy pens, calligraphy markers,
brush markers and drawing pens

Look online

If you don't know where to start then the internet holds the answers!  I have found lots of help and ideas for hand lettering by simply Googling it and searching Pinterest.  There are worksheets you can print off and use or you can find interesting fonts to copy freehand.  There are also hours and hours of video on YouTube with lessons on how to do calligraphy and lettering for beginners.  Grab yourself some paper, a pen or brush marker, fire up the videos and start learning!

Take your time and don't forget to breathe

A good piece of advice I was given by a calligraphy expert is to go slowly and take your time.  There's no rush and the longer you take on each letter or word the more control you will have over your pen. 

It is really easy to sit and hold your breath while you are writing because you are concentrating so hard, don't forget to breathe!  

Have fun

There's no point in learning a new skill if you don't enjoy it!

Mix fonts and pens

Try mixing fonts and different kinds of pens to create a fun look.  In the spread above I used some Stix drawing pens which have a really fine tip and then paired that with brush markers which are much broader and great for any type of flowing/cursive writing.


Spend a little time on your writing each day, you will soon see an improvement!

I am using these Artline calligraphy pens to practice the alphabet at the moment, they are available in four different widths, 1mm through to 4mm and come in a range of colours.  What I especially like about these pens is that the ink doesn't bleed through the pages of my notebooks so I can use both sides of the paper and not waste any space.  They are also smudge resistant so there's less chance I will ruin my work with a stray finger!  

Depending on how much spare time I have, I try to do a page or two of practice a day.  I want to get to the point where it becomes second nature for me to write letters this way instead of my regular handwriting!  When you are trying to do calligraphy remember that your down strokes should be harder making them thicker and the up strokes lighter and thinner.  

I also have a few calligraphy markers in my collection, these are permanent markers and are great for crafts like card making because they write on coated papers that are nice and glossy.

My calligraphy practice using a 1mm pen in sepia


Sometimes I sketch out the word I want to write in pencil before going over it in pen.  It gives me a chance to work on how it looks before I commit to doing it in ink and I can play around with the thickness and adding little flourishes to the letters.  

It doesn't have to be perfect

It is okay to make mistakes, you can either try to correct them or start again.

Try different pens

Try different pens to see which work best for you.  I have a calligraphy pen that you have to dip into the ink to use but I find it much easier to use a regular pen that has a calligraphy style tip.  This means I don't have to stop every minute to reload my ink or worry about knocking the bottle over when I am trying to work on my letter formations.    

Pen test - calligraphy pens and Stix brush markers

If you are learning calligraphy or lettering at the moment or if you have already mastered the skills do you have any hints or tips I have missed out?  Please share them with us!

Monday, 11 September 2017

Artline Monday - Christmas planning

I am sorry if you aren't feeling ready to deal with Christmas just yet but it is September and I always find my mind wondering towards Christmas planning around now.  You might be thinking "Ahhh it's ages away!" but we're already nearly down to double digits when it comes to the number of shopping days left!  I find the more I plan ahead and get things out of the way early means I have more time to relax and enjoy the season when December rolls around.

My Christmas planner, notebook and festive Artline pens

I have a special Christmas planner that I have been using for years.  It contains everything I need, from Christmas card lists, gift ideas and recipes to shopping lists and a record of our traditions.  I usually take it down from the shelf in September and have a flick through it to get me in the mood for starting my Christmas prep.  If you have a notebook or a ring binder you can make your own planner to help you stay on track of festive things each year too.  I recommend the following to help you get ready for the season ....


Now is the perfect time to have a clear out.  If your house feels cluttered you’ll want to simplify things.  You will need room for your tree, decorations and festive nic nacs soon enough!  Start small, a room at a time, consider if you need everything.  Sort things in piles – toss, donate or keep. Organise everything that you’ve decided to keep into drawers, cupboards and wardrobes, keeping them out of sight. 

If you have children get them to sort through their toys to find things that are broken or have missing pieces, these can be thrown away.  Any toys they have outgrown or no longer want can be donated to a charity shop if they are clean and in working order.  You want to make space for the new toys, gadgets and games they will be receiving.

If you have too many books in your house (I'm not sure that anyone can have too many books but that's just me!) you can donate some to your local library if they are in good condition.

Gift ideas

Work out your budget for gifts this year and who you need to buy for.  Do you have an idea of what they would like for a present?  If not you still have plenty of time to find out, either surreptitiously or just ask them directly.  

I usually keep a notebook in my bag, if I see a gift I think someone would like I can make a note of it.  I also write down the shop it is in and the price, this means I can either find it again later when I am ready to do some Christmas shopping or I can search online and see if I can find it for a better price elsewhere.

Making lists is a great way to get organised


If you can start some of your present shopping now it will save you some stress later on.  Ordering things online in December is a bit of a nightmare, will it be in stock?  Will it arrive on time?  Will I be home when they try to deliver?  Will it get caught up in the Christmas post backlog and disappear? Shopping now means you will have lots of time if things go wrong and you will avoid the Christmas rush.

Shopping in actual stores is a lot nicer now too, yes there's no Christmas music blaring through the speakers yet but you will avoid the queues, the hustle and bustle and panic buying.  If you don't find something today you still have time and you won't be tempted into buying something you wouldn't usually just because Christmas Day is looming and you can't face hitting the shops again!

Lastly, don't forget to cross them off your shopping list once you have purchased their gift/s.  It's quite easy to buy someone a present earlier in the year and then forget about it so you end up shopping for them twice!

Christmas cards

No, I'm not suggesting you buy, write and post your Christmas cards right now but it is easier to write them in small batches over a period of time so your handwriting stays nice and neat and you won't get cramp in your hand.  If you can buy the cards earlier (after all they will probably be in the shops just after Halloween!) you can take your time getting them done.  

Sometimes the only contact I have with some people is a Christmas card once a year so I like to make them look special.  I use metallic pens and I add some decorative tape and festive stamps and stickers to the envelopes to spread a little extra festive cheer.  If you are going to use a gold or silver pen to address your envelopes make sure it is a waterproof one like the Artline900XF or Artline999XF so the ink doesn't run in bad weather as they make their way through the postal system.

Metallic pens, tape, stamps and stickers add a touch of fun

Friends and family who live abroad

If you know anyone who lives abroad it is worth checking the last postage dates for parcels and cards before December.  Some countries need the items shipped within the first week of December to arrive on time which is cutting it fine if you haven't planned ahead.

Do you have any hints or tips for Christmas planning?  I would love to hear them! 

Friday, 1 September 2017

Artline Monday - Back to school essentials

It's nearly time for the children to go back to school, are you ready?  I have a checklist of things I need to do before the big day and I've been working my way through it over the summer holiday.  I have just completed my favourite task, choosing new stationery!  I love this time of year as nearly every shop you look in has a display of shiny new products to tempt you with!  

As a stationery fan I find my back to school stationery shopping goes like this, one for each of the kids and one for me, I deserve a treat too right?  So here is what is on my list...


Ballpoint, roller ball, fountain, everybody has their favourite type of pen to write with.  For school I like to give my children a selection of pens to use including some dual use ones, pens they can write with or use to colour in.  Artline200 are perfect for this, they come in 20 different colours and have a 0.4mm tip.  I mainly use mine for colouring in adult colouring books, the tip is great for all the small details in pictures but I tried some out in my notebook and they are lovely to write with as well.  

My back to school list and Artline pen test


Artline Supreme highlighters

Highlighters are great for revision and notes when you are at school.  I remember highlighting important sections of textbooks when I was a student and looking through my notes feeling like I had done a lot of revision if they were dotted with strips of bright pink and yellow.  Now I'm an adult I still use them for highlighting information but I also use them to create headings in my notebooks and they are an easy way to make check boxes for my to do lists.

As well as pens and highlighters don't forget to add these to their pencil cases too...

  • A couple of pencils
  • A pencil sharpener
  • An eraser
  • A ruler
  • Correction fluid or tape

There are a couple of other pens I need as well, they are...

Laundry marker

Laundry marker

This one takes me back to something on my to do list, labelling uniforms and PE kits.  I hate doing this for three sets of children so I only want to do it once per school year.  A good laundry marker is the key to success, you don't want the names to fade with repeated washing and then have to write them again and again.  This year I am using the Artline750 marker which is an instant drying and waterproof pen so there's no smudges or fading! 

While you are here I have a tip for labelling PE shirts, I've always written my children's names on the care labels of their PE tops but when they are hurrying to get changed and put their kit away after lessons they don't look for the label to check they have the right shirt.  I have taken to writing their names on the inside of the collar because they are more likely to spot this and not come home with the wrong top!   

Permanent marker

Permanent marker

I also need a decent permanent marker to write my children's names on their water bottles.  These get washed or rinsed out daily so I look for an alcohol solvent based ink to withstand this.  The Artline70 marker is quick drying, water resistant and suitable for use on most surfaces including paper, cardboard, plastic, metal and glass so it should be more than up to the task!   

I don't quite have my children's school bags packed and by the door just yet but I will very soon!  Do you still have things left to do before the first day of term or are you all set?