I've mentioned before how much I love stationery, especially notebooks. I came across a wonderful website, Santoro, the other day, and I had to share it with you.
Santoro London has a gorgeous range of stationery and gifts based around their unique collections, my favourite of which are Gorjuss, Mirabelle, Willow and Once Upon a Time. Each series of illustrations share similarities, such as dark or melancholy colours for the most part, and whimsical, light-hearted subject matter. That is exactly the kind of whimsy I adore. Yes, of course the miniature animal jar or birdhouse necklaces I make strike a chord with me, but I've always had a love for cute, whimsical subjects in darker colours that contradict the mood. I don't know why, I've just always loved it. I think it stems back to my teenage love of Rachael Huntington's illustrations, particularly of animals.
While I've struggled to make the decision, I think Gorjuss is my favourite collection, which is also perhaps quite saddening. As well as lovely notebooks, pens, mugs, bags and boxes and so on, there are also dolls in the same style at a painful £90 - it breaks my heart because I want one so much! The style is beautiful; the little ladies lack both noses and mouths, and their innocence is projected by their eyes and adorable hair and clothes. The colours, on the other hand, as I've mentioned, are dark and dreary. Even the rainbow horse on the gorgeous gift bag features darker shades of the rainbow rather than vibrant or pastel. I love that.
I'm all for presentation, and I think that this 'White Rabbit' illustration Gorjuss mug has the best presentation for a mug I've seen so far. The box is sturdy and beautiful, both the lid and the box itself, and even the lining of the box, is a beautiful damask instead of just plain white. It really is the little things. The mug itself is light and feels very, very well made, though delicate, and will accompany my cups of tea or hot chocolate (depends what day it is) beautifully. I really love it. It's 'simply gorjuss'.
The 'Tell Me Something' illustration notebook I got my hands on is from the Mirabelle collection, which, like Gorjuss, focuses on females, and while it maintains its whimsical style, there is a notable difference. The cameo-style frame and coat of arms at the top and bottom circles the illustration gorgeously, as it does so many others, and lends a more sophisticated air to the whimsy. The notebook itself is very strong with nice, thick paper that won't bleed through easily (something I just can't stand), and has sewn-binding. I've mentioned before how much I love notebooks, the prettier the better, but I don't like to give notebooks random or undedicated uses. I'll buy cheap £1 notebooks for random notes and things to remember, or just stick with funny-shaped post-it notes. When I find a subject that I have a lot to write down about, such as plots or simple ideas for future plots, I will pick a notebook, preferrably a pretty and big one, and that will forever be dedicated to that topic. For now, this lovely notebook will sit with the few other truly gorgeous ones I have and wait for their very important assignments. The nicer the book, the more important its use will be.
The 'The Guide' pen shown is from the Willow collection, and has an even more complex illustration style to the others. The ink is gorgeous, and as someone who uses a lot of pens (I massively prefer to have my book plan and all of my book notes written out, by hand, on paper, so that I can spread as much of it in front of me while working or progressing my worlds as much as possible without having to switch between windows on a computer. Half of my books themselves get written by hand first), the ink is a very important aspect of pens. If the ink keeps starting and stopping, even just slightly, not even so much that I need to go back and redraw a line but enough that it's not completely smooth, my train of thought gets broken because I'm distracted by a minor OCD of vaguely broken lines. And yes, that is my handwriting; it's atrocious, but I can read it and that's what counts.
Finally, I've got this lovely hammered 'Frog Prince' illustration card from the Once Upon a Time collection. I don't often look for cards, but when I do, I can't help getting distracted by lovely designs. If a birthday is coming up, I will often end up buying multiple cards and keeping some for myself as prints. Sometimes I find it quite sad when I find a really gorgeous design somewhere but it's only available as a card, when I'd love it as a print, but I remind myself that there's only so much room on the wall what with replicas of all kinds of props from Middle Earth (you remember I mentioned my AMAAAZING replica of Radagast's staff that Seeg's parents got me for Christmas), Chinese and Japanese pictures that Seeg collects and the prints and paintings I've slowly accumulated from Etsy.
I adore Santoro. They also stock clothing in some of the same collections, gorgeous nesting suitcases in the same collections again, and amazing pop-up and swinging cards that I may just have to get a few of. And, as simple as it is, I love the round postcards and only wish I'd have spotted them when I got this bundle of goodies! Their selections are huge, both in design and product, and the customer service is delightful. I really do recommend them if you're looking for some gorgeously whimsical designs (in bright colours, too) on some gorgeously unexpected products.
Happy World Book Day everyone! I remember when I was in primary school I loved it. We'd be given a £1 book voucher that could be used in any book shop either as £1 off of any book we wanted, or to get a free book valued at £1 that was brought out specially for this day. They were quite small books, but perfect for primary school children like I was. I would go around collecting all the book vouchers from friends who didn't want them and I'd get myself LOADS of £1 books.
I also remember that for the week of World Book Day, my primary school would hold a book market in one of the school halls - it sounds more awesome than it actually was in hindsight, but as a kid I loved it. I'd go around after school, telling the teachers which books I wanted and they would hold them for me until I had money. I'd go home and tell my mum I needed £15 for all the books (remember when an ordinary book would cost £3.50?) I'd put by and they were angry with me - in typical English fashion, once you've reserved something you MUST pay for it, you can't simply say "I know you've been holding this item for an hour, and you could very easily sell it to someone else in the next few days, but I no longer wish to own it so please put it back on the shelf for one of any number of other people to buy." So they gave me the money and I got my books. Fortunately for my parents and unfortunately for me, when I got to high school that kind of thing stopped, but I still have fond memories of World Book Day and all the wonders the books around me held. I still consider books to be one of my favourite things. As cheesy as it sounds, they're doors to new worlds, especially when you read fantasy as much as I do.
So, in celebration of World Book Day, my book flower rings, necklaces and gift sets have been reduced in price! If you have a discount code it can still be used on the items to get them for even less. This sale only lasts today. I'll be manually putting the prices back tomorrow around 10am, so to be honest, regardless of your time zone, today means today.
It's Mother's Day on the 30th of March, and I just thought I'd take a moment to remind you all that I am open to custom jar necklaces. They range from £25 to £35 depending on the amount of work involved (I' give you a quote up front) and have £2 shipping in the UK. Mother's Day for the rest of the world is in May, I believe, but if you're outside the UK, remember that it will take longer than just 2 days to get to you! So it's best to get a head start. Shipping anywhere outside of the UK on these pieces will be £3.50.
If you'd like a custom animal jar of a different animal than listed in my shop (like a snail or a monkey) then I may well need to test the shape first. In this case I will simply tell you I'm not certain if I can do it or not, and that day will sit down and attempt the shape. Unless my internet fails, you will hear from me the next day with whether or not I can do it. If I can then I will make a custom listing for you to purchase before I paint it and put it together.
If you'd like a jar of a specific pet, I will require photographs of the front, back and both sides of the animal so that I can see the markings. Please note that if it's, for example, a dalmation, I won't be able to get every single spot in place, but I will make sure that there are clusters where there are clusters, and that the faces are painted as accurately as possible. If however it's something like a ferret with a standard coat, you won't need to provide me with lots of pictures but I will need to make sure I've got the colours right.
So far I've only done dogs, and, on one occasion, three little ratties. I'm happy to try other animals, though, but as suggested above, I might need to test the shape first.
These custom jars are made much, much more carefully than standard animal jars because they are generally one of a kind. The jars stocked in my shop are simpler because I make them in groups and expect to make even more once they're gone. These, however, won't be reproduced unless of course I receive a request for two of the same pet, but even then they will have a better shape than any others in my shop.
Due to the detail of custom pieces they tend to be too big to fit in a narrow jar, so custom animals are limited to 2x3cm jars. The chain can be either 16 inches or 18 inches.
PRICES & SHIPPING:
Range from £25-£35 depending on detail. Please assume the latter to avoid disappointment. You will be given a quote upon your enquiry.
Shipping costs £2 within the UK and £3.50 (approximately $5) outside of the UK.
Please purchase before March the 19th for UK Mother's Day (March 30th).
Please purchase before April 10th for overseas Mother's Day (May 11th).
Requests made afterwards may still arrive in time but I can't guarantee it.
Items are not shipped tracked overseas as tracking adds an additional £10 to the postage price. Ouch.
I was flicking through this month's Women's Fitness magazine, and at the back was just a mention of hula hooping. Immediately a fire started in my head (it takes that little) and I decided it sounded like buckets of fun, so I got myself a hoop and decided that that would be this month's challenge.
I did a quick search on Amazon for a fitness hoop and the very first result was a ResultSport Level 1 Anion Hoop - it had all these strange nobbly bits on it to massage you, and given that the reviews were pretty good (110 5-star, 37 4-star, 20 3-star, 9 2-star and 16 1-star reviews) with the only negatives really being that the product hurt and caused bruising (which was mentioned several times in the product details by the seller themselves, and in my opinion, if warning is given on the product page then you don't really have much of a reason to complain because you should expect it), I decided I'd try it.
The product arrived flat-packed with instructions on fitting together (easy) and using it. I did feel that the plastic felt a bit cheap but I always get that sense from plastic so I looked past it. The pieces fitted together easily, but not so easily that they'd break or come apart after or during use. To be honest, it really felt quite sturdy.
There was, initially, only one problem: it's advised that you only use it for 3 minutes every day for the first 7 days, and then 5 minutes a day for the next seven. I'm not new to working out at all, so I didn't really think sore muscles would be a problem, but I decided that it's best to follow the instructions anyway. So I do have a confession to make: I started using the hoop around the 17th of February. I didn't want to save it until March 1st only to find I'm barely using it for the first two weeks because that wouldn't really offer anything in the way of results, so I decided to break it (and my waist) in two weeks early.
I was right: sore muscles weren't a problem. I never got them at all, and the stitch I had expected to get never occurred either. The product's packaging, website information and reviews were right: bruising occurred. Horrible little circles. I had expected it, though, since I was definitely warned, and intended to persevere, but I found it very difficult to keep going on the second day. The bruising hurt, but even where there were no visible bruises the nobbles were hurting me like hell.
I had three choices: stick with it but with doubtlessly little enthusiasm until my body toughened up against it; send it back and buy a hoop without nobbles; or give up completely. The latter was not, in my opinion, an option, and I can't say that the idea of continuing to use a hoop that was that uncomfortable filled me with enthusiasm, so I decided to send it back, get a refund, and buy a new hoop.
I stuck with ResultSport, however, and went for a padded hoop instead. The original hoop weighed about .75kg, but this one weighed 1.2kg, almost 500g more, and that does make a difference. The ResultSport Level 1 Padded Hoop in particular also had amazing reviews (168 5-star, 39 4-star, 6 3-star, 2 2-star and 3 1-star reviews) and it seemed to be an even better option, though more expensive. This time I did make sure to read the negative reviews, as few as there were. The majority of 1-3 star reviews said the hoop was too heavy, a couple said it was too light, and one said something about their cat which was clearly not worth taking into account at all. They also mentioned bruising as well, but I figured that bruising was bruising; this padded hoop would surely be more comfortable to use and the bruising wouldn't last long, or keep forming after a few weeks. They did all say that the hoop was good quality, though, it's just that it didn't seem to agree with them. But with 168 5-stars I barely had to think about it.
Much like the first hoop, this was flat-packed and easily assembled. It felt like much better quality, really good stuff. It was a little tougher to put together because of the foam, and it's a little harder to disassemble as well, but that's why there are little white rectangles printed on the foam. Beneath them (or close to that area) is where you'll find the buttons to press to take the hoop apart. As with the first hoop, it doesn't seem likely at all that it's going to come apart while in use, or afterwards. It's definitely kinder on the skin, too, but bruising did still occur, though whether this was because of the specific hoop or because I was already bruised (the new bruising was on top of the initial bruises) I don't know. Regardless, my lack of enthusiasm melted away.
Either way, I've done the first 7 days of 3 minutes and the next 7 days of 5 minutes, and feel more than ready to go for a more prolonged time frame. Once I've got the basics down, I might get a DVD to use with it - there are plenty. So while I did start 2 weeks early, I don't feel like I've done all that much with it except some kind of pre-use checks, really.
I'm quite excited to get to using it properly now, and as last month, I'll write a 2-week report around the middle of the month to update you on how it's gone.