Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Japanese fountain pens review and give aways

Merry Christmas and here's to a fabulous 2014!

As mentioned in my previous review and give away, I've loved using fountain pens since school and I've always found it tricky as you don't know what a pen will be like until you give it a try. I'd like to thank Cult Pens for kindly providing the pens free for me to review and give away.

So, this time we have a 3-way shoot-out between some great low cost Japanese pens which all cost under £4.
First up is the Pilot Petit 1 fountain pen with clear blue ink.

After inserting the ink cartridge, it took only a little encouragement to get the ink flowing. If you're looking for a classic-looking pen to use in your serious corporate workplace this might not be the pen for you! However, I love it and it wouldn't have looked out of place in my school pencil case. It's a small pen at 110mm long, but becomes a decent 133mm when posted. I found it quite comfy to write with and it doesn't feel too small due to the barrel size of 13mm. I chose the clear blue ink, and the barrel and cap colour matches the cartridge colour chosen. It doesn't fit in my personal Malden filofax pen loop, but it clips quite well there due to its short length. The fine nib writes quite nicely and I like the turquoise ink. It doesn't use international standard short cartridges, but you can buy the specific cartridges here.     

Next up is the Pilot V4 disposable fountain pen with black ink.

As no cartridge is required, it wrote straightaway on its first time. When capped this doesn't look like a fountain pen, but uncapped I found that I quite like the simple design in the silver-grey colour. At first I didn't really get the idea of a disposable fountain pen, but maybe it could useful if you didn't want to worry about losing it or other people borrowing it. Size-wise it's fairly similar to my Pilot V5 pens at 130mm long. With a little encouragement it will fit in my Malden pen loop and hopefully would help to stretch the loop with regular use. The nib writes a little less smoothly than the Pilot Petit, but it's still a nice medium steel nib. I think this would definitely be a good first FP for kids without the need for ink cartridges.     

And finally we have the Platinum Preppy fountain pen 0.3 fine with purple ink.

The Preppy's ink took a bit longer to get going on its first try, but overall I would say it has better ink flow than the other two pens. It looks quite similar to the Petit 1 with a clear plastic body, and the nib, clip and cap top match the ink colour. It is similar in size to the VPen disposable at 135mm in length. Unfortunately it's too fat for the Malden pen loop. I love how well the stainless steel nib writes and it's purple in colour (added bonus!). It can use international standard short cartridges if you get one of the adapters. I found it comfortable to write with.

All three pens perform very well on Filofax paper with almost no feathering. 

There is some bleed through onto the reverse, but I've found that always to be the case with any of my fountain pens. 

My favourite is the Platinum Preppy soley due to the better ink flow, and I would definitely recommend any of these pens and think they're great value for money. I kinda wish I'd been introduced to them when I was at school, rather than wasting my pocket money on ones that were scratchy and disappointing to write with. 

Thank you for your interest, but this give away is now closed and winners have been announced here.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Cult Pens mini fountain pen give away winner

Thank you very much for your interest in my give away, and I am so sorry for the delay as for some reason my draft post didn't publish as expected.

I am delighted to announce that the winner is mlblog!
Please could you email me your name and address to info [at] anitalim [dot] co [dot] uk ?

I was amazed at the number of entries (99!) and I will soon be holding some more fountain pen give aways. Thanks again to Cult Pens for supplying the pens.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Cult Pens mini fountain pen review and give away

I've always loved fountain pens since using them at school, and can't imagine not owning and using any. Since discovering my love of Filofax in 2009, I've found that many of the pen loops are sadly just too slim to accommodate many of them. It's been a while since I did a review for the fabulous Cult Pens, so I got in contact and they suggested I try out their mini fountain pen.

Its sleek barrel is made from anodised aluminium with a matt brushed finish, which matches my MacBook Pro very nicely. As the name suggests, this is a small pen when capped at just 105mm long, but when posted is a nice size at 123mm in length. The slim 9.5mm barrel fits nicely in my Ascot and Malden Filofax pen loops, but doesn't feel too small for me.

As you can see from here, it's fairly comparable in size (when posted) with my Lamy Safari and Muji fountain pens. I did ask my husband to try writing with it, and his feedback is that the length is fine but he does find the barrel on the slim size for him.

The pen has been designed in conjunction with Kaweco (the same company who made this calligraphy set I reviewed before), and I've quickly found that it's become my go-to pen for these reasons:

  • It fits in my Filofax pen loop (a BIG deal which other filo owners will understand)
  • The Kaweco nib writes smoothly and the ink flows immediately each time on the first stroke 
  • Despite being a smaller pen, it has a nice weight and balance to it
  • It's very convenient to pop into your bag or pocket, due to its small dimensions and screw on cap (and yes, I've had a bag full of leaking ink before).
Cult Pens kindly provided me with a Kaweco Sport converter which fits, but to be honest I haven't given it a go yet. It's a weeny little thing that won't hold much ink, so I'd probably just use my blunt tip syringe to refill an empty cartridge with the bottled ink instead.

The main reason this pen is a keeper for me is its smooth nib. I've been through a number of fountain pens in the past that just weren't that nice to write with, either too scratchy or I spent more time trying to get the ink to flow. There's a wide range of nibs available for this pen, ranging from extra fine to extra broad to satisfy anyone's tastes. 

I was given both a fine and medium nib to try out. I tend to prefer a finer nib, especially if I'm using it to write in my Filofax. 

So, how does it perform on Filofax paper?
Well, there is a little feathering and some bleed through on the back of the diary inserts.

However, I like the Filofax yellow notepad paper and the ink actually does much better on this with no noticeable feathering or show through. I've found that some of the other fountain pen ink struggles with coloured paper, and seems to just sit on top of it, rather than sinking in. 

I'm a great fan of Getting Things Done and have tried various methods in the past of trying to catch all my thoughts in one place (called ubiquitous capture by the author David Allen). The idea is that you use something that you always have with you (my filo normally lives at home), and I'm finding that a piece of Filofax paper folded up in my wallet seems to be working very well. At the end of the day, I pop it into the front of my filo for processing later. However, I can forget to take a pen, or it'll get caught up with other rubbish in my bag and isn't so easy to find. Looking at the mini fountain pen, I suddenly had a Eureka! moment. 

It's the perfect size to clip in the middle of my wallet, so that it won't get bashed about by my keys etc. and isn't big enough to add much bulk.

I'd like to thank Cult Pens for providing these 2 pens free for me to review, and I'd heartily recommend them as they're reliable, tough and nice to write with.

Thank you for your interest, but this give away is now closed.
I will be having another fountain pen give away shortly! 

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Finding my way back to myself through aikido

I think aikido is a bit sneaky.
Week after week I turn up, practising the movements and my ukemi. And on the face of it, it's about training the body, but somewhere along the way my mind is being influenced in a positive way too.

By turns, my training can be frustrating, enlightening, fun and challenging. Now and then I have tantalising glimpses of the amazing and effortless power I'm capable of. Over the years, I've discovered that nothing else seems to come close to guiding me back to my true self. Running and meditation help, but there's something about aikido that encourages me to let go of the everyday chatter and less than helpful internal dialogue, and helps balance my perception of the world.

So, what is is about aikido that helps?
There are lots of principles I considered, but for me personally it's the combination of being focused and moving in a positive way. To fully engage in class, I can't be feeling sorry for myself or worrying about something as I'm too busy. I can't feel like a victim if I'm moving in a committed way as it seems that the two can't exist in the same space.

I set myself high standards generally, and can sometimes get easily frustrated and feel stuck with the amount of progress I am making. When I allow my body to get on with what it knows, the movement flows and my moving muscles help free up my mind. I come away from practise feeling strong, balanced and fully more 'me' than when I stepped on the mat.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Minimalism and Filofaxes: part 1

Photo courtesy of Hilde SkjĂžlberg

The lovely Jane got in contact with me the other day to ask me this question:
'Out of ALL the voices who speak of collecting Filofaxes, you're the only one so far who has said you only want to own what you use. 
Have you always been a minimalist, or are you just trying to simplify your life?
I'm trying to simplify my life and I know I spend WAY too much time drooling over Filofaxes.
Sure would appreciate your thoughts!'
Thank you for getting in contact, Jane, and I'd love to answer that question as it's a subject I've been meaning to write more about! 

I think my minimalist tendencies come from when I was growing up, as our household was kinda cluttered and I kept my bedroom tidy as my own little bit of control. Even as a child, I was never very good at collecting things. I collected seashells for a while and had a couple of favourites on my window sill, and the rest was stored under my bed. One day it seemed silly to have the rest hidden away, so I had a go at displaying them and quickly realised that it became too cluttered and busy for me. All of a sudden I couldn't cope with owning them all, kept the few favourites and gave the rest away. I tried one further collection of animal figurines from when we visited the local zoological park, and again once my little gathering reached a certain number, I felt crazy and gave most of them away again. 

It seems that I have some kind of internal gauge that periodically goes, "Aaarghh, too much stuff, must get rid of it!". And when I come back empty-handed from donating items to our local charity shop, I feel a sense of peace and contentedness. Before I lived with my husband, I had a room in a shared house and I loved having all my possessions in the same space. One night, we were curled up on my bed watching a DVD and he asked, "What are you doing?" I didn't really understand what he was getting at and asked him. "You're scanning your possessions and plotting what you can get rid of, aren't you?" was his reply. I admit that I was, and I sometimes have to take a step back to make sure I don't get rid of things I might miss. 

I love Filofaxes, but I don't want to own too many. It seems with some trial and error that two is my Goldilocks number. I've tried just one personal sized binder, but have come to the conclusion that I just can't fit everything in. My personal binder functions as my external brain, with an A5 for extra space for planning and projects. I recently thought I could cope with owning one further personal for when I fancied a change to swap into. I really should've known better as it didn't last very long and I've now sold the extra one. Both personals were models that I adore, but I knew one had to go. I enjoy looking at other people's fabulous collections, but for me personally I'm very content with the two I currently own.    

I like the William Morris quote 'have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful'. For me, it helps to explain why I use a Filofax as they're both useful and beautiful. I want to love what possessions I do have and use them. 
So, my short answer is, "Yes, I'm a bit of a minimalist and I'm trying to simplify my life too". 

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Saturday, 28 September 2013

The 21-day meditation challenge

Wow, I've been a bad blogger.
I think I've been working through some stuff (nothing bad though), and every time I've sat down to write it's been a struggle. Sometimes the words come easily, but not just recently and I want to enjoy blogging, rather than it becoming a chore.

Anyways, I'm BACK so what have I been up to? The usual stuff including:
  • lots of aikido
  • got back into regular running again
  • had my first ever personal training session
  • doing shiatsu and accounts 
  • watching Angel (finally got round to buying it as I am a real Buffy fan-girl)
  • reading lots (finished the Millennium trilogy and have now started Changeless by Gail Carriger) 
  • and still on a mission to get rid of more clutter and things I don't use (another post to come about my simplify project) .
Something else I've been doing lots of is meditating. I signed up to the 21-day meditation challenge last year, but unfortunately couldn't complete it due to being out the country, so I really wanted to do it this time. If you haven't come across it before I'd really recommend it. It's absolutely free and after signing up you receive an email each day with details and a link to login in for that day's meditation. The 15 minute recording includes an introduction by Oprah, further explanation and insights by Deepak Chopra and then a short meditation. The 21-day challenge ran in August this and last year, but in the meantime there is another free 2-week online meditation journey available which starts on the 7th October.

I had been meditating regularly before the challenge, but I really enjoyed the structure and guidance provided. It became my daily 'me time' treat and I'd curl up on the bed with my MacBook. I normally sit in the half-lotus position, but I just really liked the idea of making a little nest, getting comfy and not rushing back into things once the recording was over.

Rather than making this a big long post, I've decided to share the challenge's daily centring thoughts and mantras in a second part instead.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Quick, the Amazing Biz and Life Academy price is going up!

If you're someone that's been considering joining Leonie Dawson's Amazing Biz and Life Academy, then dive right in now as the membership price will be doubling in 4 days!

I've been a member for a while now and can wholeheartedly recommend the academy as a wonderful resource for lots of yummy things like meditations, e-courses, workbooks and a forum to chat with other like-minded souls.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Positive words from the Good Life Project "Living Creed"

Like this? Learn to build a better life at Good Life Project.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Liebster Blog Award - part one

Thank you so much for my nominations for the Liebster award :)

It's not something I'd heard of before, but it recently started popping up on blogs in May (sorry I'm so late) and then to my surprise I've been nominated 5 times! I believe the idea is to acknowledge blogs with less than 200 followers, and it comes with some rules for each person to:

1. Post 11 things about themselves.
2. Answer the questions that your nominator sets for you.
3. Choose 11 people and link them to your post.
4. Create 11 questions for the people you've chosen to nominate.
5. Go to their page and tell them they have been nominated.
6. No tag backs. 

So, here goes... I decided to split the post in two as it was very long with so many questions. 

11 random things about me:

1. I came second in an obstacle course race (as a child) because I went back to straighten the chair I'd just crawled under.
2. I love my food and have a big appetite.
3. I'm a bit of a bookworm.
4. I own a crazy cat called Floopy.
5. I'm a bit of a nerd (and proud).
6. I sold my motorbike, a Suzuki 600 Bandit, in 2005 but I will get another bike one day.
7. I love martial arts (practising them and watching films).
8. My favourite food is char sui bao (Chinese dumplings).
9. I learnt Russian at college, but am very rusty now.
10. I run and plan to do another half-marathon one day.

Questions to answer:

1. What is the first thing you do every morning?
Have a stretch before I get out of bed.
2. Why did you start your blog?
To try out something new and talk about my shiatsu studies.
3. What did you want to be when you grow up?
I didn't really have anything particular in mind, but had the feeling that it would all work out OK though.
4. Who do you consider your role model?
I'm not sure I have one, but I do admire people like HH the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela.
5. If you could have three wishes, what would they be?
To cure my husband's chronic fatigue, and I think I'd give my other two away to other people who need them more.
6. Favourite family activity?
Going for a walk.
7. What is your sport to watch or play?
I don't watch much sport, but love practising aikido (Japanese martial art).
8. If you were invisible, where would you go or what would you do?
I'd visit a zoo at night time to watch the leopards sleeping.
9. If you could go on vacation anywhere right now, where would you go?
British Columbia, Canada.
10. If your friends has to describe you in one word, what would it be?
Kind (I think, but you'd have to ask them!)
11. What is your pet peeve? 
People littering.

From Lady Elizabeth's Life
1. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
To not be so hard on myself.
2. Name 3 things you loved to do when you were a child?
Read, go horse riding and be outside.
3. How do you see yourself in 5 years?
Fitter, more organised and fiercer on the aikido mat (rawr!).
4. Are you enjoying your life or just letting it pass by? 
I am enjoying my life and looking to challenge myself too.
5. If you could pick one wish from the magic genie, what would it be?
To cure my husband's chronic fatigue.
6. Do you enjoy cooking? 
Yes, I do but I'm not feeling particularly inspired currently.
7. One regret (if you have one) from your life choices so far?
That I didn't start training in martial arts earlier.
8. What did you say when you were a child that you wanted to be when you got older?
"Um, I don't know".
9. Do you use/own or have heard of Filofax?
Yes, I've had a Filofax since 2009.
10. What is the activity you like the most when you are upset or stressed?
To go out for a run.
11. What book are you reading currently?
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith.

From Chrissie's Universe
1. How old are you feeling?
I feel my age (nearly 40 years), but very happy with that as I'm pretty fit and much happier than when I was younger.
2. How do you like to travel?
I love flying and am like a big kid, wondering where everyone is going and peering out of the window.
3. If you could choose a pet, what would it be?
A cat (and I'm lucky to already have one).
4. How old is your car/bike?
8 years old (silver Ford Ka).
5. What would you die for?
My loved ones.
6. The last book you read?
Ptolemy's Gate by Jonathan Stroud.
7. Do you like rain?
Yes, I do. However, it can get me down a bit if it rains for weeks on end without a bit of sunshine.
8. What is your favourite dish?
Roast chicken with rice and veg.
9. The colour of your eyes?
Very dark brown.
10. Do you like your feet?
Yes, I do. However, I wasn't a great fan of them when I was younger as they're quite wide.
11. Bread or cookies?
At the moment, I'd go for cookies but I like bread too.

Part two will be on its way shortly :)  

Monday, 3 June 2013

Filofax 'set the scene for Summer' blogger challenge

I'm very excited to announce that I will be taking part in another blogger challenge, after being contacted by the Ideas Network on behalf of Filofax! I really enjoyed being involved in the previous one, so snapped up (sorry for the pun) the opportunity to take part again.

The challenge is to take a photo of yourself, friends or family with a Filofax organiser to 'set the scene for summer'. I then chose a binder from those being offered for the photo (once the sun finally came out), and went for the gorgeous personal size Cover Story Flamingo in navy. Once the challenge is over, I will be giving the Flamingo away here :)

Not my entry, but in case you haven't seen the Flamingo yet
All photos entered in the challenge will feature on the Filofax website and Facebook page. The winners will be the top three bloggers who receive the most likes on the Facebook page. The date hasn't been set yet for the competition, but please keep an eye out on Facebook and like my photo if you think it's good. If I'm one of the top three, I will have more Filofaxes to give away, yay!

This doesn't count as an entry (as it's my own Malden), but in closing I thought I'd share with you a snap from my holiday earlier this year to Malaysia.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

National Stationery Week give away winners

Thank you very much for your interest in my give aways to celebrate National Stationery Week. I am delighted to announce that the winners are as follow, picked by

  • Jennifer Harrison
  • Gill
  • Emma E.
Please could you email me your name and address to info [at] anitalim [dot] co [dot] uk? 
Thanks again to Cult Pens for supplying the FriXion pen included.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Saturday, 27 April 2013

National Stationery Week give aways

I'm a bit later with this post than I meant to be, but this week is National Stationery Week which is a celebration of the written word and all things stationery.

I think my love of stationery started when I was a child, and I could easily while away time scribbling in different coloured pens in a notebook. I love gadgets too, but my trusty Filofax holds all my thoughts, to-dos and plans for world domination. Recently I've also started to learn calligraphy (post to follow), so all of this just made sense to help celebrate the week with some give aways!

Up for grabs...

  • Postcards by Kim Smith

  • A Pilot FriXion light erasable highlighter (kindly provided by Cult Pens and reviewed here).

Please leave a comment to enter and winners will be picked using Entry is open worldwide and will close on Monday 6th May at midnight GMT.
Good luck!

This give away is now closed.    

Monday, 15 April 2013

Up and coming posts

Hello! I feel that I've been a bit neglectful of my blog of late, so I thought it's about time I convert some of my unfinished drafts into proper posts.

Coming up...
  • A couple of give aways to celebrate National Stationery Week (22nd-28th April)
  • Some thoughts about minimalism
  • Some Filofax posts, which I might share between here and Philofaxy
  • A series of posts talking about the tools that I use to help me focus
  • And more about shiatsu and aikido...
And on another subject, I've realised that one of my FriXion pen winners never got in contact. Please could Tracey Coates get in contact by this Friday the 19th? Otherwise the pen will be included in the give aways next week :) 

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Monday, 8 April 2013

G is for gratitude

Since getting back from a wonderful holiday to Malaysia, I've been a bit slow at getting back to blogging. And then in the back of my mind I had a vague recollection that I'd meant to do something in April. Hmm, I looked through my filofax and then found a little scribble... ah, the A to Z Challenge which I did last year! Ooops, bit too late to join in this time, but I've realised that I have lots of unfinished draft posts and ideas scribbled down. Therefore, I've decided that I will join in the challenge next year and explore some of the thoughts I've already started.

I feel very blessed by so many things in my life. Some years ago, I used to keep a gratitude journal to help me through the tougher times, but nowadays I don't generally feel the need to write it down. On a fairly regular basis, before I go to sleep I think about the day and choose 3 things that I am grateful for. It helps me consider if I spent the day in a way I wanted to, and I like that my last thoughts before dozing off are positive ones.

What am I grateful for?
  • My wonderful, thoughtful and supportive husband
  • My lovely family
  • Good health - I sometimes catch colds and stuff more often than I'd like, but a mixture of shiatsu and the occasional chiropractic session keep me in shape
  • Finding my way to aikido, such an amazing and subtle martial art
  • Being able to follow my interest in shiatsu, and move from full to part-time work to enable me to study and practice
  • Working for a great company with fab people
  • And so much more...
'Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom' - Marcel Proust

'Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to have woken up, I am alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others, I am going to benefit others as much as I can' - HH the Dalai Lama

Photo courtesy of happy_serendipity

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Monday, 4 March 2013

More Movember filofax competition entries

Phew, I don't know where the end of 2012 went! I had planned to share the rest of the competition entries before Christmas, but time just whooshed by so BIG apologies for the delay.

The theme for the competition was a photograph which included a moustache and a filofax, to help increase awareness for Movember. Thank you to everyone that got involved and I had a hard time choosing the winner.