Monday, 29 December 2014

Crackers about pens or just crackers?

Awwww, Christmas is over for another year but before I take down the tree and store away the decorations I'll do one last Christmas themed post to help me get it out of my system.

I loved Christmas day for the following reasons:

  • I got a day off work (I was exceptionally lucky this year and bagged myself Boxing day off too).
  • The shops were shut so it was impossible for me to spend any more money (unless I have a sneaky peak on the laptop) but I didn't so all was well. My bank balance has taken a beating so it will be extremely grateful for this recovery period (I know it's going to take a little longer than a day until it's fully re cooperated, but we're on the right path)
  • I got to watch my son open the presents he so desperately wanted but thought he wouldn't get. After being told one present was still on a boat from China, the other was out of stock and another arrived but was broken so had to be sent back, he truly believed this was going to be the worst Christmas ever. Instead he got everything he wanted. 
  • Everyone knows I'm a stationery geek so I can pretty much count on the fact that my presents will be mainly stationery themed.  I have to say this year I was especially spoilt. The amount of stationery I received would probably last anyone who doesn't spend all of their spare time obsessing about stationery a lifetime. 
I know! How amazing is this?!
  •  Then there was Christmas dinner at my parents house. My mum always decorates the table so beautifully, my Dad cooks a feast fit for a king and my brother burnt the pigs in blankets. And I, well I, erm, ok I did nothing but isn't that what you're supposed to do when you go to your parents for dinner? Probably not - bad daughter!
  •  Then there was the age old tradition of pulling Christmas crackers. They are always filled with bad jokes that only I laugh at. The paper hats that despite being far too big for my head I always manage to rip no matter how delicately I attempt to put them on. And not forgetting the naff cracker gifts.
Speaking of naff Christmas crackers, they were actually the real reason I sat down today to write.

Christmas cracker time for me this year was way more exciting that it should have been. Embarrassingly so in fact.

So here is my version of the cracker pulling events:

We all grab the end of a cracker and pull. From here on everything seemed to happen in slow motion.

The popping sounds were like my firing pistol signalling that the race was on to grab the best crap gift. Folded hats, terrible jokes and even worse gifts flew out from all directions, narrowly missing the Yorkie puds and the gravy boat. As the cracker gifts bounced about on the table my eyes locked onto the pen, still spinning from the impact.  A PEN CAME OUT OF THE CRACKER!! I grab it, shout 'mine'and pull it in towards me before anyone else gets their hands on it.

Time returns to normal, I put on my hat and joined in with the cracker jokes.

What everyone else saw:

We all grab the end of a cracker and pull. As they do every year, the gifts fly out from all directions, luckily none made it into the food this year.
I spot the pen at the same time as my son and with a crazed look in my eye I dive out of my seat, dip my sleeve in my plate, swat his hand out of the way and snatch the pen whilst shouting 'MINE'  before he has any idea what just happened. I hold the pen close to me, laughing hysterically while the rest of the cracker gifts are claimed. I start writing my name on my napkin with a satisfied smirk on my face, feeling like the cat that got the cream.

I then realise that I might have gone a little overboard (the clue was in the odd looks aimed in my direction) so I pop on my hat, join in the the cracker jokes as though nothing happened.

But it did happen. Want to see what all the fuss was about?
The delicious looking chocolates are there to distract you from the plastic naffness of the actual pen

Ok, so I got a little over excited. It is after all, just a plastic pen, likely to snap if I press down too hard or sit on it but it did make the cracker pulling event of 2014 unforgettable so I will keep it as a reminder. It writes pretty good considering!

Oh and the little notebook came from another cracker and I think after the crazy pen incident no one dared not hand it over so that too is all mine!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Friday, 26 December 2014

Christmas with the Cactusmases

It's Boxing day and the Father Cactusmases are feeling a little sad.

Christmas is over and the cheeky duo are concerned for their future. What will become of them? They've spied the Christmas decoration box and I think they are worried they might suffer the same fate as the tinsel and the tree. It's pretty cold up there in the attic so I can understand why they're anxious.

They've had so much festive fun and they really don't want it to end.

Is it my turn yet?
They took a shine to my Lamy Vista and had a selfie session, only it was more me, myself and the Father Cactusmas behind me.

writing cards

They discovered the Christmas cards and couldn't wait to write them out. There was quite a bit of bickering about who's name would appear on the card first. The Wise owl had to swoop in to help, although explaining to the Father Cactusmases that it didn't matter because they shared the same name proved to be quite a challenge. Same name or not, it seemed to really matter to them!

making music - or more accurately, noise

They practised carol singing and even recorded a Christmas album, doing their best to ignore Spongebobs annoying 'I'm behind you' panto tricks. Unfortunately Simon Cowell said it was the worst thing he's ever heard so we won't be seeing it in shops any time soon.

I have to say, I've really enjoyed their company and despite them messing around with my stationery I think I'd really miss them if they were gone. I think even the real Santa has a soft spot for these two as he left them a little present. Some stationery of their very own - a cactus pen!

over the moon

The Cactusmases spines tingled with Christmas glee. They were so happy that they forgot to argue and had fun taking it in turns to test out their new pen.

sharing nicely

What do the Cactusmases love most about this pen? It can be refilled so their fun never ends.

Seeing the Father Cactusmases so happy made me happy so I've decided to let them carry on living on my desk. They've promised to leave my stationery alone now that they have their own and they have agreed to take off their hats until next Christmas.

So now the Cactusmases may look like ordinary Cacti, but we know their secret....sshhhh!.... until next year!

Father Cactusmases in disguise

Monday, 24 November 2014

Pens - To lend or not to lend

Something happened at work the other day. I left my pen in plain sight, something I very rarely do anymore. You'll understand why very shortly.

So I'm a checkout assistant, till op, cashier, whatever you want to call it. My job is simple, scan the shopping, take the money, be polite and courteous at all times. ALL TIMES.

A customer approaches the checkout with a trolley full to the top. As she starts loading onto the belt it becomes apparent that she is shopping for her whole neighbourhood and wishes to pay for three items at a time so she can get separate receipts. OK fine, I'm here all day anyway, so it makes no difference to me.

She unfolds the list from her pocket and starts rooting through her bag. Uh oh, she hasn't got a pen.
At the exact same moment, both of our eyes land on my pen, the one I left in plain sight. How could I be so stupid?

"Can I use your pen for a sec" she asks. I knew it was coming but hearing the words out loud still paralysed me for a moment. An excuse, I need an excuse. Should I say it doesn't work? Not believable, why would I have it just there if it didn't work. And she might ask to try it anyway.
Too late, I hesitated for too long so she grabs it anyway and begins crossing off items as she removes them from the trolley.

Right OK, it's done now. Note to self, do not leave pen lying around. I continue scanning. I tell myself to get a grip, the world won't end just because someone used my pen.

I press total. That will be £4.95 ple... WHAT ON EARTH?

My pen is hanging from her mouth. I don't mean just held between her lips, shes sucking on it like it's a lollipop. My stomach does a weird flip like I might be sick or something. I resist the urge to snatch the pen from her mouth and ask her what she thinks she's doing. I need to politely ask her to remove my pen from her mouth but I can't speak.
I notice her friend is staring at me with an odd expression on her face. That's when I realise I'm gawping at my pen in horror. My friendly smile and professional manner have failed me. What must I look like?

After what seems like a lifetime, she removes the pen from her mouth and that's when I see the string of saliva stretch out and the drop onto the conveyor belt. It was like a horror movie. I didn't want to look, I wanted to scream and run away but at the same time I couldn't tear my eyes away from this disgusting scene.

I leave the pen where it is for now. I need to psyche myself up before I can retrieve it. It's the same panicky feeling I get when I see a spider and theres no one else around to move it.

The rest of the transaction is a blur. I scan but I'm not there. I'm in my safe place, waiting for her to leave so I can grab my hand sanitizer and plan my next move. I don't know whether I should go and wash the pen, whether I should throw it in the bin or whether I should leave it where it is and for the first time in my life hope someone comes along and gives it a good home.

As I looked at the pen, covered in spit, I felt sad. I had no love for it anymore.

I'm not completely heartless. I couldn't just leave it there, abandoned and alone. I did eventually take the pen, wash it thoroughly with soap and put it in my locker. But that's where it's been ever since.
Will I ever use it again? I don't know.

I'm sure the customer who caused all this heartache has no idea what she's done, it wasn't done intentionally so I'm prepared to forgive although I'm not sure I'll ever forget.

Why am I telling you this? I'm telling you because I wan't to raise awareness and let people to know that it is NOT OK to put someone elses pen in your mouth. Next time you are tempted to pop a pen that doesnt belong to you into your mouth - stop and think. Do you really want to force this pen into early retirement? Do you want this pen to live the rest of its life in a dark locker or worse, in the bin?

If I can save just one pen from suffering the same fate as my poor promotional pen then it won't have all been for nothing.

Monday, 17 November 2014

NoteShel Review - An end to my notebook buying addiction?

I've finally got my mitts on a NoteShel thanks to a competition on the NoteShel Facebook page.

I've wanted a NoteShel for a little while now but with Christmas just around the corner I thought it best to press pause on the stationery spending and start preparing for the big day. It's been tough, like being on a diet. The more I deprived myself the more I craved so hearing the thud as my precious prize dropped through the letter box filled me with excitement. I raced to the door but the Chihuahua had beaten me to it, growling and snapping at my parcel with a crazed look in her eyes. It was then that I realised I wasn't the only one affected by this temporary stationery ban. The dog had clearly missed giving the postman a fright and was making the most of this unexpected visit.

I wanted to savour the moment so I opened it slowly, feasting my eyes on the vibrant colour, feeling the weight of it, running my fingers over the NoteShel logo. Pure Bliss. It's colourful, it's magnetic, it's mine.

The case itself is part rubber, part plastic and I could tell immediately that this NoteShel is durable and built to last. The post it slot is refillable so I can change it up a bit with extra colour. The funky little magnetised pen clings the the NoteShel quite impressively and believe me when I say that no amount of shaking would persuade it to loosen it's grip.That pen knows where it belongs.

So I had this fresh, unopened block of post it notes and I wanted to make sure that the very first mark I made would be an important one. In bursts the boyfriend closely followed by our son, both claiming to feel faint with hunger, insisting that the only thing that could possibly save them was a trip to the McDonald's Drive Thu. On any other day I would have refused to go until they finally wear me down with their nagging or they get bored and start rummaging through the freezer. But this wasn't any other day, this was NoteShel day. So I took down their order and got in the car. Not quite the important mark I was looking for but it would have to do.
With the boy and manchild fed I could go back to giving the NoteShel my undivided attention.

The unique looking ballpoint felt light in my hand and had no trouble with ink flow. The metal parts of the pen look attractive but together with the smooth round shape are slippery customers after prolonged use. But do you know what? It doesn't matter. The pen isn't designed for prolonged use, it's designed for taking notes, for being there when you need it.
I was especially pleased to find that this stylish pen is refillable. My NoteShel and matching pen will remain together, forever.
As I popped the NoteShel in my handbag, smiling at how perfectly it fits into the zipped compartment, I noticed the tatty old notebook in the bottom of my bag and was overcome by a rush of mixed emotions. What would become of it? NoteShel has swooped in and taken care of all my note taking on the go needs. No more dog eared notebooks, no more digging deep for a pen that works. Does this mean I never need to buy another pocket notebook?

Of course not! Once a stationery addict always a stationery addict and if there's one thing a stationery addict is good it, it's finding a use for yet another notebook.

Friday, 17 October 2014

It's #Ink to Win time

After picking up a fountain pen for the first time in years and liking it, I decided it was time to experiment with ink. I don't do anything by halves so when Pen Heaven offered me the opportunity to try out the new Platinum Mix Free Inks I jumped at the chance.

These are no ordinary bottles of ink, they can be mixed together to create your favourite shades. So whether you are working on a stunning piece of artwork, doodling in a meeting or you want your personality and unique style to shine through the squiggles on your page, these inks may be just what you've been waiting for. My favourite ink colour is green so it's exciting to be able to mix inks to make my favourite shade. I don't need to hunt high and low for my perfect shade. I can create it myself.

But that's not all. To celebrate the launch of Platinum Mix Free Inks, Pen Heaven wants you to get creative with ink and in return are giving you the chance to win the most amazing prize with their #Ink to Win competition.

                                                           What you can win:

First Prize is this handmade Platinum 3776 Maki-e 'Aurora' fountain pen worth a whopping (you may want to sit yourself down for this) £2000!

Two runners up will receive
  • A sample kit of Platinum Mix Free Inks consisting of 5ml vials of each colour (and one of the diluting fluid)
  •  A Platinum Plaisir Fountain Pen + converter

What do you need to do to win?

It's simple - get creative with ink.

You can use a fountain pen, dip pen, feather, shoe, your own head, it really doesn't matter as long as it's done in ink. It can be a picture, a piece of calligraphy, abstract art, whatever you like. Just have fun with it. It doesn't even have to be on paper so you can be as imaginative as you like. Remember to include info on how your piece of art was created as it really helps the judges when it comes to choosing the winners.

Think your art isn't good enough? Think again. Entries will be judged on creativity and innovation with the medium of ink which means everyone has a shot at winning.

What are you waiting for? Head over to the Pen Heaven Blog to submit your entry and read the full Terms and Conditions

I used my Platinum Mix Free Inks to create a mass of colours and patterns using a dip pen. What will you create?

 Competition starts Wednesday, October 15th, 2014 at noon BST and ends Wednesday, November 19th, 2014 at midnight GMT. Competition is open to European Union residents only! If you are located outside the EU, you cannot enter (or win). You cannot be an employee of or affiliated with Coles Pen Co Ltd, and bloggers and judges involved in the competition cannot enter. Only one entry per entrant is permitted. Fraudulent entries using multiple social media accounts will be eliminated.
Only one entry per person. Postal entries are not permitted.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Lamy ABC Fountain pen review

I always tell people I hate onions. One day my boyfriend challenged me. He asked me when I last ate an onion. My reply? Years ago, that's because I hate them ...duh!

Recently I was asked about my favourite fountain pen. My reply? I'm not really a fountain pen person. I love the look of them. There are some ridiculously beautiful fountain pens out there but they are far too high maintenance. That's why I use rollerballs. Fountain pens are the divas of the pen world, they need regular cleaning, they can have nib issues and some have really complicated filling methods. Not to mention the fact that they can get expensive.

Then came the onion question. When was the last time you used a fountain pen? Which filling method did it use?
I realised then that I hadn't used a fountain pen since my school years. I used a cheap cartridge pen which I loved until the nib broke. A rollerball saved the day and the fountain pen ended up in the bin. It's quite sad really.

The only fountain pen I own is a Lamy ABC. It's designed for children. It's a beginners pen. I'm relying on this pen to gently ease me back into fountain pen use. Will this pen inspire me to experiment more with fountain pens? There's only one way to find out ..... It's time to ink up my Lamy ABC and get writing...

It feels right that I'm starting at the beginning with this fountain pen designed for children. I'm hoping that the fact that this is a childs pen doesn't mean it will be of a lesser quality. Children are like sponges, soaking up information and experiences that will shape who they are. If a childs first experience of using a fountain fails to make a lasting impression then I can't see why they would want to continue using one throughout their school and adult life. A pen that makes a child feel special, a pen that has the ability to enhance handwriting and get children to enjoy writing is a pen that a child will remember.

The maple wood body of this pen conjours up images of classrooms with neat rows of wooden desks with the lift up lids, an abacus on the window sill and well behaved, cane fearing children perched on wooden chairs, fountain pens at the ready. Most of the children I know have never used a fountain pen in their life.

The rubber grip is great for encouraging children to employ the correct grip from the very start. 
It's successful in reducing any slipping which in turn keeps fingers clean of ink. The shape of the grip really helped me keep the pen in the correct position. After years of only using ballpoints and rollerballs I'm pleased to say that readjusting to using a pen that has a 'right side up' wasn't difficult at all.
One of the biggest differences I have noticed between my rollerballs and this fountain pen is how tightly I need to grip the pen. My fingers are so much more relaxed with a fountain pen.
I could write an entire novel if I wanted and I know that hunger and tiredness would strike long before hand fatigue.

The cube shaped plastic on the end of the pen may look like its just there for decorative purposes but I've discovered that it does actually have a job to do. It helps create an even balance whilst writing and if the pen does happen to roll away the plastic cube will slow the pen enough to give you a decent shot at catching it before it tumbles to the ground. The cube shape prevents the cap from being posted which doesn't bother me but may spark a cap hunt at some point during the school day.

So how do I feel about the steel nib? Pretty good actually. 

It feels sturdy and strong enough to survive the hustle and bustle of a busy classroom as well as an inexperienced user. I was surprised at how little pressure was needed in order to get a decent ink flow. I barely had to press down at all.
Once I'd gotton a feel for the pen and holding it in the correct position I was really pleased with the ink flow. I do have some amazing rollerballs that have the same inkiness but the fountain pen just adds that extra sprinkling of character and individuality to the page. I imagine this is one of the many reasons people who use fountain pens never look back.
It's true, a fountain pen does feel pretty good on paper. So velvety smooth and easy. I had heard that fountain pen ink is notoriously difficult if used on the wrong type of paper but I found with this pen 80 - 100 gsm paper caused me no problem whatsoever.
There is something about writing with a fountain pen that makes me want to take my time. I don't think this pen would allow me to scribble my thoughts hurriedly and scruffily even if I wanted to. I can see this pen making handwriting practise for children easier and more enjoyable.

I'm fairly sure the medium line width will suit the childrens slightly larger handwriting perfectly and it's suits me too.

The ink isn't as quick to dry as some rollerballs and ballpoints which may be a problem for left handers like myself. In primary school I was always given blotting paper to help reduce smudging. I feel fortunate as a lefty to have learnt to use even the inkiest pen and very rarely smudge. It may look strange as my notebooks are always at an odd angle but that way my hand is always underneath the words I'm writing and never drags through the ink.

One of the things I hear alot from the 'for' fountain pens camp is choice of ink. There does seem to be so much more choice when it comes to colour. I haven't yet experimented with bottled ink but when I do I know this pen is compatible with the Lamy Z24 converter so it won't be a problem.

I'd love to try some different shades of green. The pen came equipped with a Lamy cartridge (also available in a variety of attractive colours) which I'm using for this review. The installation of the cartridge was straight forward although it didn't click or pop so I had to double check it was secure before screwing the pen back together. I'm sure with a little more experience, refilling fountain pens will become second nature.

The Lamy ABC is missing a clip. I do like my pens to have a clip. Even if I intend to keep a pen in my bag I like it to be clipped and secure so when I grab for it I know it will be exactly where I left it.

I can't see the lack of a clip making much difference in a classroom. A lost pen will soon be returned to it's rightful owner thanks to the name tags. As well as having a choice of colours there is also a clear plastic protective sticker to ensure names stay in pristine condition for as long as possible. I love being able to personalise my pens. It's like gently marking my territory, letting people know that the pen belongs to me. I really must learn to accept that most people are not in the slightest bit interested in running off with my pens.

I've surprised myself with how much I enjoyed using this pen. I don't have any other fountain pens to compare it to but this pen is definitely on par with my favourite rollerballs. I doubt very much that I'll suddenly do away with my rollerballs and use nothing but fountain pens. Rollerballs will always be part of who I am, like my favourite dressing gown that I'll never part with no matter how scruffy it gets. However, I'm sure my rollerballs won't mind me making a little room for the occasional fountain pen now and then.

Now that I've conquered my initial fear of using a fountain pen I do want to continue on this journey of rediscovery. I want to avoid getting too overwhelmed so one step at a time. My next step is to experiment with ink and I can tell you, I have been invited to take part in something very exciting, and it involves ink. It's going to be heavenly. Watch this space.

But first, I need to see a man about an onion...

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Crayola Pip Squeaks Mini Marker Competition

It's competition time and this time I'm giving away some Crayola goodies.

 There's nothing like a stash of Crayola felt tips and pencils for when you're in the mood to let loose and get creative. Oh, the kids love them too.

There are 14 bright colours in the Pip Squeaks Mini Markers set and 12 coloured pencils.
The Markers are washable so if a little of your childs creativity does end up where it shouldn't, it's not a problem.
They are ideal for round the house or can be whipped out on long journeys once Eye Spy has lost it's appeal.

If you would like to win this set then all you have to do is enter via the rafflecopter below.

Uk entrants only

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Swarovski Crystalline Lady Butterfly Ballpoint Pen Review

Who loves a bit of bling?
I'd like to say me but it wouldn't be true. I'm not a girly girl. You only need to look at my battered canvas pumps and last seasons handbag to see that shopping isn't my favourite past time. I like diamonds but they are more of an acquaintance than a best friend and if you do ever happen to catch me wearing a dress it's probably because I'm on my way to a wedding. But show me a pen that dazzles and delights and I'm putty in your hands.
When House of Fraser offered me the chance to review the Swarovski Crystalline Lady Ballpoint Pen I jumped at the chance. What's there to think about? We all need at least one bling thing in our lives right? Be it bags, shoes, diamond rings or in my case, a gorgeous pen. Pen bling is the only kind of bling likely to turn my head and get my heart racing.

No matter how hard I tried I could not capture the true colour of this pen with my camera
When the Swarovski pen first arrived I sat by the window for a good long while turning it over and over, admiring the shimming pink crystals in the sunlight. There are around 140 Swarovski crystals neatly arranged within this pen and it's fascinating to look at. The body of the pen has a beautiful pearly shine to it. I'm undecided on the colour. I can't decide if it's pink or purple or both or neither. It depends on the light and which angle you view the pen from.
I knew this was going to be a pretty pen but I wasn't prepared for how quickly I would fall in love with the butterfly charm. If I had been presented with this very same butterfly dangling from a silver necklace I'd have been over the moon. Three of its wings are decorated with approximately 20 clear crystals and the other wing is rose gold metal plated and is so ridiculously shiny that I could see my face in it. This is definitely not your average pen charm.

This charm is good enough to be worn as a necklace
Not only does this pen look great, it feels luxurious too. Here's where you're going to think I've completely lost the plot. The most comfortable position for holding this pen is above the cone shaped tip, a good 20mm away from where the pen meets paper. You may have noticed my many ramblings about various pens with grips too far away from the tip and here I am, with a pen which has no grip and I'm happy about my finger positioning which may as well be miles away from the tip for all the moaning I've done in the past.

Uses the twist mechanism to retract the ballpoint
But it works. I think the pens slim frame and evenly balanced weight is a huge factor. It's the perfect fit for my fingers. As I write, the butterfly swings from side to side which originally I was sure would become a nuisance but in fact it amuses me slightly. Even the rhythmic tip tapping of the butterfly against the pen as it swings is endearing rather than irritating.
I noticed that during extended writing sessions slipping was only a minor issue. There may not be a grip but being able to hold the pen loosly without a battle with gravity meant the pen stayed put for the most part. Look at me gushing over this pen. Maybe the butterfly has hypnotised me into only being capable of paying compliments. I'd better find the boyfriend, it's been a while since I paid him a compliment, he'll love this.

Ok so I've made my point, I like the pen but will this ballpoint fall at the final and most important hurdle? It's time to test it's writability.

Writing sample
I've tossed my scribble pad aside for the time being as this pen has been producing ink, first time, every time so it's a great start. With a ballpoint I've come to expect a certain amount of skipping but actually, the refill in this pen isn't bad. Yes some letters appear a touch lighter than others but the ink never gave in and all my letters are complete. I really have nothing to complain about.
Those dreaded ballpoint blobs and gloops are nowhere to be seen, the pen is easy going on paper and writing is non eventful in the good sense.

The pen uses Schmidt mini refills. So maybe I'll need to change the refill a little sooner than usual but that's ok, it's the way it has to be if I want to keep the pink crystals. Schmidt isn't a brand I've used before and I have to say I'm impressed. I'll definitely bear Schmidt in mind when refilling my ballpoints in the future.

The clip proudly displays the Swarovski name and so it should. Swarovski is a name I'd previously associated only with jewellery but it's clear they have so much more to offer. The clip has a small amount of flex in it. It's enough for me to be able to clip it to my pocket or notepad easily but not enough for it to be easily knocked off and lost. I'd have no choice but to walk the streets pinning LOST PEN signs to every lamp post if that were to happen.

I really wasn't expecting to be so excited by this pen. The more I use it the more I love it. This Swarovski pen is elegant, feminine and sylish and has used it's sparkly charm to bring out the girlier side of me which is something many have tried and failed to do.

Christmas is closer than you think so if you know someone who would love this pen then you can find it over at House of Fraser.

Thankyou to House Of Fraser for providing me with this pen for the purpose of this review. All opinions in this review are entirely my own.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Zebra Sarasa 0.7 Gel Ink Rollerball Review

I probably have more Zebras in my pen collection than any other brand. Not intentionally, don't get me wrong, I love Zebras but mainly because they are in most stationery shops I visit so they are pretty much unavoidable. Those naughty Zebras can be very persuasive when they want to be,  twisting my arm all the way to the check out.

The Zebra Sarasa has been part of my collection for a few months now. This pen was recommended to me on numerous occasions by different people so I felt I had no choice but to try it for myself. I wouldn't want to feel like I'm missing out on anything.

Zebra Sarasa
I wasn't blown away by the Sarasas appearance. It's a pretty name so I'd hoped for a pretty pen to match. I went online in search of a meaning to the name and found that Sarasa means Swan. When I think of a swan I imagine a beautiful creature gliding graciously across a lake, barely a ripple in the water. I also remember the countless times I've run from swans flapping their huge wings at me while I've been trying to feed the ducks but when they're not hissing at me I can really appreciate their beauty. The Zebra Sarasa doesn't really have any features that stand out so a swan wasn't the first image to come to mind when looking at it for the first time.

The Zebra Sarasa is made from plastic aside from the blue rubber grip. The transparent body of the pen allows me to keep tabs on my ink usage which is always a plus - no nasty surprises.
It is retractable using the clicker button.

The Sarasa weighs very little and is my ideal width for comfort. I could write all day with this pen, using only a light grip, never feeling any kind of discomfort associated with uneven weight
distribution or bulk.

Zebra Sarasa grip
The rubber grip could do with being a little closer to the tip but that's my own issue not the the fault of the Sarasa. I've been practising holding pens further away from the tip in the hope that I will get more enjoyment from some of my higher gripped pens. My progress is slow. Changing my pen holding habits after all these years is not easy but I'm giving it a good go.
The grip has a slight squashy feel to it. I do prefer grips with minimal movement when squeezed. Having said that, it is still comfortable to use. There isn't so much texture that I'm left with indentations on my fingers and it does keep slipping to a minimum so it's doing it's job.

The Zebra Sarasa has a medium 0.7mm point which although it isn't quite my favourite (fineliners will always be my number one) it's a close second. My lines are a decent width, not so thick that I feel I need to adjust the size of my handwriting accordingly so no complaints there. For those who are particular about point sizes, fine and a bold versions are also available.

The gel ink inside the Sarasa flows consistently without issues. No skipping or false starts, just good solid evenly inked lines. The ink is quick to dry. I was in a nitpicking mood so I tested it in every notebook I had and found that as with most pens, it's not completely immune to smudging but almost. A 1-2 second dry time on most of my pages is in my opinion not bad going and on others it was immediate. I didn't see any feathering or bleeding through the pages. As a left hander I was especially pleased.
The Zebra Sarasa takes to paper like a duck to water, moving across the page smoothly and confidently allowing me to really enjoy the experience. I can just zone out and write without any irksome distractions like scratching or too much/too little resistance. When I look down at my page and see that each and every letter is perfectly formed I realise that my uninspiring ugly duckling of a pen did indeed become a beautiful swan. Let this be a reminder that it's what's on the inside that counts.

Easily refilled
The fact that I've had this pen for months without breaking it adds to my joy when refilling it. The bond I've formed with my Sarasa doesn't need to be broken. I get no enjoyment from throwing an empty but otherwise perfectly good pen in the bin.
The Sarasa takes the JF Zebra refills which are placed in the pen by unscrewing just above the grip at the writing end. The refill just sits in, no faffing about. Be careful not to lose the spring (obvious but easily done!).

Zebra Sarasa clip
The clip is quite flexible so it's very easily attached to a notebook or pocket but unless it's clipped to something reasonably thick it's also just as easily detached. It would be fine clipped inside my pocket where it can't fall very far and I can keep checking it's there. Or maybe unlike me you are sane and think the pen would be no bother to replace if lost considering the reasonable price they can be picked up for.

Of all the Zebra pens I've had the pleasure of using up until now I'd say the Sarasa is my favourite. It's maybe not the most attractive of the Zebras but it definitely delivers when it comes down to the important part - the writing. Not every one appreciates the wet inky look but I absolutely love it.

In a weird, selfish kind of way I'm pleased the Sarasa is average looking. I feel like it's let me in on a secret ...

"Pssst, over here, I may look like a boring old rollerball but wait till you see what I can do on paper.. don't tell anyone though, I don't want everyone fighting over me"

Disney Princess & Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Stationery Giveaway

Are we ready for another giveaway?

Disney princesses and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been with me since childhood so it's lovely to see see the children in my family just as excited about them as I once was.

The sets I'm giving away very nearly ended up in my novelty pen pot so enter quick before I change my mind and keep them for myself!

The Turtles set includes 3 ballpoint pens and 3 pencils with eraser pencil toppers.

The Disney Princess set includes 2 ballpoint pens and 4 pop up pencils.

There will be two winners, one for each set.
Leave me a comment letting me know which set you would like to win. If both winners have chosen the same set, the first winner picked will receive their first choice and the second winner will receive the other.

Uk & Ireland residents only

Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway