Reviews

A Beautiful Mess - Happy Mail

A Beautiful Mess is probably one of the first blogs I started reading back in the day, and definitely one of those that insired me to start my own. They're wildly successful now: the blog is an institution and the brand has grown to include classes and paper products.

Being a sucker for cards and stationery, one of their products that got me most excited is the subscription service they call "Happy Mail".

ABM Happy Mail costs $20 ($15 if you opt for the annual subscription), and you get $50 worth (retail value) of stationery, cards, notepads, stickers, prints, craft goodies etc. They're obviously based in the US, but if you're in Europe like me (or just not in the States for that matter), you'll be delighted to know that they ship worldwide AND for only an additional $2!

I had the chance to try a couple of their past edition, and was really impressed by the amount and variety of goodies you get in each box. Most of the content is based on the monthly theme, but you always get something more neutral in the mix.

Besides notecards and postcards, ecah box also contains stickers - perfect to add accents to your letters, of embellish your planner - and a little special treat. For example, one box had the cutest mail-themed iron-on patch, and another had a cool clear stamp.

Something I really appreciate is that all the cards are beautifully illustrated (so if you're like me and want to keep one or two for yourself, they make very nice wall art!) and are exclusive to Happy Mail - you canโ€™t find them anywhere else!

Also, each card comes with a colorful envelope rather than a boring white one, which is always a plus.


Have you tried ABM Happy Mail or any other paper subscription box? I'd love to know your thoughts on them! โ˜บ๏ธ

ฦ’. xx

Just a Card Campaign + House of Cards Book

Perhaps you might already be familiar with the Just A Card campaign, but if you're not, let me tell you a little bit about it.

Sarah Hamilton is a London-based artist, and in 2014 she started a campaing to support indipendent artists and retailers after seeing yet another small gallery close down.

โ€œIf everyone whoโ€™d complimented our beautiful gallery had bought just a card weโ€™d still be open.โ€ When I read this quote by shop keepers whoโ€™d recently closed their gallery I thought - enough is enough - we need to fight back! 

The core message of her campaign is that even the smallest sale can help independent shops and designers to pay the bills. As an independent designer myself, this is a message I immediately resonated with and something I always try to keep in mind whenever I may buy something for myself or a gift for someone.. it's nice to stray away from the highstreet and get something more unique whilst also supporting a small business.

Last month, Sarah's book "House of Cards" came out in stores, and I thought I'd check it out.

It features a beautifully curated selection of step-by-step tutorials to create handmade cards by various independent designer. The difficulty ranges from collage to linocut printing, so it's suitable both for experts DIYers and those who are just getting started.

I'm just about to strat sharing more of my mail on the blog again, and I'm sure this book will come in handy for when I need some inspiration to add a more personal touch to my letters โ™ฅ


What's your favourite technique when it comes to making cards by hand?

ฦ’. x

ScrawlrBox: Art Supplies Subscription Box - Review

You may know that my biggest weakness is stationery, and that I'm also very enthusiastic when it comes to subscription boxes.. so when those two things combine, I'm pretty much in heaven.

For this very reason, if goes without saying, that when I stumbled across ScrawlrBox I was rather excited. They're an art supplies subscription service that every month delivers a box of creative goodies to your door, AND a theme for a creative challenge to complete using only the supplies provided in the box.

Sounds like fun, doesn't it?! Let me show what was included in this box:

  • Derwent Graphix Line Painter in Clockwork (water based paint pen)
  • Derwent Graphix Line Marker in Sepia
  • Parker Vector Fountain Pen on Medium Blue
  • Darwent Soft Graphite Pencil
  • Bockingford Watercolor 300gsm Paper Sheet
  • Sweets + Tea Bag & a cool print by the featured artist

The theme for this month's challenge was "spontaneous", and I'm the type of person that prefers to start drawing with (half of) an idea already in mind. What I did in this case, however, was just literally pick up the pencil and started drawing lines, and what came out eventually was this little terrarium:

So.. after all things considered, would I recommend it? Heck yes! The Parker pen alone retails for ยฃ11, so considering the box is ยฃ15, I'd say you get a pretty good value for money. Also, it gives you the chance to branch out on different brands, and maybe push you a little bit out of your comfort zone with tools you wouldn't necessarily pick out yourself. Plus, who wouldn't want to find a mystery box of art materials in their mailbox?

If you want to learn more about it and/or subscribe, make sure to check their website for more informations. 

Now, tell me, what do you think about it? โ˜บ
ฦ’. x

// Disclaimer: ScrawlrBox kindly sent me this box for review but I wasn't compensated in any way. My opinion on the product is completely unbiased.

Workspace Wednesday: Holiday Crafts

In the past few days, I received two things from two lovely ladies, that I want to share with you today, and that I'm sure you'll love if you're looking for something to use in your holiday crafts.

First up, my friend Amanda just recently opened an Etsy shop where she sells these adorable Snail Mail Kits and other mail goodness. In my parcel I've found a set of Christmas cards, and a kit that consisted of: many stickers and decorative die cuts and paper, a polaroid style notecard, and some decorative adhesive sheets.

She very kindly offered a coupon for you guys if you fancy a something for yourself or maybe a friend who's just getting into snail mail. You can get 15% off using WRECKTHIS15 at Mail Made Easy.

Next, Anna from Mrs. Brimbles sent me another Happy Mail box, that is just perfect for this time of year as it's completely Christmas themed!

All the goodies inside it are lovely, we have a set of cards, themed stickers, a letter set with gingerbread men (!!), and a roll of ribbon for your parcels.

And also what might be my favourite bits: a set of gift tags with some nice quotes on them, and a gift wapping kit with twine and witty stickers, how cute!

I definitely can't wait to get my Santa hat on and start wrapping little gifts to send to my penpals! Have you started organizing your Christmas mail yet?

ฦ’. x

Stationery Spotlight: Flow for Sissy-Boy Notebooks

I've teamed up with Flow Magazine to show you one of their newest products: a line of notebooks made in collaboration with Sissy-Boy, a Dutch lifestyle brand.

Like any other Flow product, they're very nicely designed and include quite a few freebies as well. They're quite large, so you have a lot of room for your writing or drawing! What I like most about those, is that they have different types of paper inside, and for someone like me who likes to go through one notebook at a time, this is perfect; you have lined pages, grid and blank ones, some are colored too, and they all feature cute illustrations here and there.

As I mentioned, they also come with freebies. Regardless of which notebook you decide to go for, you'll find stickers and labels inside, plus another goodie that varies based on the notebooks. The one I decided to go for is the "Me and My Ideas" one, but there's also one for recipes, thoughts, or even family. Mine came with a little notebook that it's the perfect purse-size, so you can carry it around with you at any time.

I might be biased because notebooks are one of my weaknesses, so I love me a good, chunky, multi-purpose one โ˜บ either way, the quality is really good (they're similar to the Flow Weekly Notebook from 2014 - which I also loved - if not better!), there are so many pages, and don't forget about the cutesy graphics!

If you want to treat yourself or a loved one with one of those, you can find them here. I'm also hosting a little giveaway for the "Me and My Plans" one, so if you're interested in that, make sure to check out my Instagram page โ˜บ

What's your favourite feature in a notebook?

ฦ’. x

Brush Pens Face-Off: Pentel vs Tombow

Brush pens are great. Seriously, if you donโ€™t have at least one brush pen in your pencil case, you really should.

Today Iโ€™m going to compare two very popular brush pens: the Tombow Dual Brush Pen and the Pentel Pocket.

ink

Tombow: acid free, water based ink. Pros: great if you like shading, or if you want to use it alongside your watercolors. Comes in a variety of colors. Cons: you need to be very careful because it smudges very easily! You need to wait a little bit longer for it to dry completely if you want to use it just for line art or inking.

Pentel: waterproof ink, refillable cartridges. Pros: dries quickly and itโ€™s permanent, but you can still dilute it with a water brush when itโ€™s still wet. Cons: Only comes in black.

Brush tip

Tombow: has two tips, a nylon fiber brush and a bullet tip. Pros: Having 2 type of tips in one. Cons: the brush tip is quite stiff and doesnโ€™t allow very dynamic line weights. The tip wears down easily.

Pentel: soft synthetic brush. Pros: the ink flow is very smooth, and the soft brush is perfect to produce a variety of line weights and strokes. Very durable tip. Cons: doesnโ€™t perform too well on textured paper.

price & extras

Tombow: USD $2.50, ยฃ2.75, โ‚ฌ4. The pen body is quite longer than regular pens so it isnโ€™t quite as portable; it is disposable.

Pentel: (comes with 2 cartridges) USD $13.50, ยฃ11, โ‚ฌ13. You need to store it horizontally otherwise you could experience too heavy or too dry ink flow; it is refillable.

verdict

Itโ€™s quite hard to pick one over the other because although they fall into the same category, you can tell theyโ€™re very different pens. In my case, my favorite is the Pentel one, and shock horror, I donโ€™t even get all the hype about the Tombow ones.

All things considered, my verdict is: if you can, buy them both and use one or the other depending on what are your needs in that moment, despite their flaws, theyโ€™re both very good pens. If you want to commit to only one of these, instead, Iโ€™d say go for the Tombow if youโ€™re more of a casual user (it is definitely more budget friendly), and maybe if youโ€™re starting to get an interest in lettering; go for the Pentel if need more control over your line work, and if you plan to use it extensively and for a variety of applications.

And you, do you have a fave brush pen you'd like to recommend? โ˜บ

ฦ’. xx

Pipsticks Sticker Pack - Review

In case you haven't noticed yet, I'm getting quite addicted to subscription services, they're just so fun!  (ใ€ƒ๏ฝฅฯ‰๏ฝฅ)๏พ‰ 

Earlier this week I received my envelope for the Pro Club* from Pipsticks, that claims to be a subscription for sticker lovers... and you bet I agree!

The Pro Club retails for $15/month, and you get 15 sheets of stickers + a couple paper goodies; here's what was inside my envelope:

A blank branded postcard you can customize using the stickers in the pack (or in any other way you want, really), a thank you note, and a quote card with a pretty patterned background.

Now to the sticky goodness! I got a really cute sheet of korean travel stickers, some ice lollies, a lenticular sticker card (I didn't know these were a thing!) of a chubby chick, and some decorative stickers, perfect for scrapbooking.

Some bunny/dog puffy stickers, some tiny colorful llama ones (I love these!), some puffy faces, a couple matryoshka flakes, some round clear alphabet letters, and some arrows, which I think will work well in my planner.

Last but not least, 2 big hearts, some polaroid deco stickers, and three cute round ones.

Overall, I'm really pleased with the content of this envelope, and the price seem really fair, too.

The Pro Club is advertised to be perfect for snail mail, scrapbooking and planner decoration, and I have to agree that most of the stickers are perfect for either one of those activities, and I'm sure I'll put them all to good use. I've actually already used some of them!

If you'd like to try this subscription box yourself, the lovely girls at Pipsticks were kind enough to offer a 15% discount code to you all โ˜บ just use FAB15 at checkout, it works on any order.

[Instructions: During checkout, there's a place that asks for discount codes in the box to the right side of the checkout page. If you have troubles activating the code, you can contact Pipsticks here]

And before you go, please tell me: what are your favorite kind of stickers? I like me some cute and silly ones like the llamas above the most! 

ฦ’. xx

Moustache Stationery Subscription Box - Review

Earlier this week I received my monthly box* from a subscription service called Moustache Stationery. When I first found out about it I was really thrilled for two reasons: 1. it's based in Europe, so it's closer to me than many other subscription services, and 2. I really liked the "neutral" feel of it; like, you know how sometimes stationery boxes comes with lots of frills and sparkles? I don't mind that, but sometimes it feels like the quality of the stationery is sacrificed in order to get the cutesy factor, whereas I feel in this box you just get good quality stationery.

Anyway, without further ado, here's what I found in this month's box:

The first thing that captured my eye, is this little notebook calle "Rite in the Rain" all-weather memo book:

It really intrigued me, and I was curious to see what it was all about. On the back cover it reads "all-weather writing paper that sheds water and enables you to write in any weather", pretty nifty! It's perfect for this season as well, so if you like to carry a notebook on the beach you don't have to worry about water splashes. I will definitely try it out and let you know how well it works! Besides that, the quality of it feels amazing, and I love the tan colored pages.

Next up, there was a Caran d'Ache water brush pen. It is really different from the Pentel ones I use at the moment, so I'm really eager to try it out.

Then, I found three pencils:

  • a Caran d'Ache 'Black Wood' pencil: an HB pencil with an extra large lead;
  • a Caran d'Ache watercolor pencil in green;
  • a Stabilo 'Woody' 3 in 1 pencil in yellow: it can be used as a coloured pencil, watercolour and wax crayon, and it promises to write on paper, cardboard, glass, metal and other smooth surface.

Lastly, as well as the pencil sharpener, there was this really interesting looking pen: a Tombow AirPress, and its refill. On the box it says it will write in every position, even upside down, and on wet paper, so it goes perfectly with the little notebook!

Another thing I like about it, is the clasp; unlike many other pens it doesn't feel flimsy, in fact it feels very sturdy and you can play with it and use it without having to worry that it's gonna pop off.

Overall, I really loved this box. All the supplies included are great quality and most of them I wouldn't be able to find in any shop near me. The box retails for $39.95 (about โ‚ฌ35) and the worldwide shipping is included. Considering you get ~8 good quality items, I think you get a good deal for the price.

What do you think? Have you ever tried this box, or would you like to? โ˜บ

Thanks so much for reading!

ฦ’. xx