Thursday, 28 February 2013

February's 365/30: 28/28 Review of the month

28. Review of the month

February has been a weird old month; everything happening whilst feeling like nothing was getting done.

My 365/30 challenge went to pot, as you can probably tell by my lack of posts on the subject and the recent spate of spam posts as I tried to catch up. I did intend to complete them all but after the 14th, the topics began to become date specific, and I didn't want to fill your subscription boxes with terrible rush-written posts.

Out of my two goals for the month I have at least partly achieved one. I've managed to get myself a design client who is willing to pay me for my services! I was starting to think that there wasn't anyone left who appreciated and understood the amount of work needed to bring ideas to digital-life. Thankfully I was wrong. If I nail this project, hopefully I will be able to get more work with other local businesses. Thanks to my A5 Metropol, I am (so far) completely on top of expenses, notes, time sheets, everything I might need to keep me ahead of any deadlines coming my way. £15 well spent there!

As for everything else this month; I've gotten considerably better at driving and will hopefully be booking my test for early Appril. I've also lost a stone! Whether it's showing or not, I can't tell. The pecemstic fat-girl within me is saying that it won't even show after three stone... but I'll shut her up with loads of fruit and roast vegetables!

Hopefully March will be better for keeping on top of blog posts, which I have been neglecting lately.

It's also mine, and my Boyfriend's four year anniversary in March, so there will be love, happiness and good moods all 'round :)

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

February's 365/30: 12/28 Things that make me crabby...

12. Things that make me crabby...

Unpaid internships are the bane of my existence! You've worked hard for that degree, passed with flying colours, oh by the way you now have to work for six months+ without any pay before we consider offering you a paid job.

This sort of practice ensures one thing, and one thing alone: Wealthy individuals stay wealthy, and the poor stay poor. I am by no means wealthy, nor am I living on the bread line, but I still can't afford to work for free for undisclosed periods of time, or want to burden my parents by expecting them to subsidise a wage I should be earning.

Under UK Minimum Wage Law (MWL), an employer must pay you a minimum of £6.17 per hour (depending on your age) of you have an "internship" which includes fixed and expected working hours and defined responsibilities. That is not an internship. That is a job. Wages are claimable up to six years in arrears if you think your employer has breached MWL.

For more information go to Intern Aware.

February's 365/30: 11/28 Five things on my Wish-list are...

11. Five things on my Wish-list are... 

I think my wish-list, if found by someone who doesn't know me, would portray me as a gaming and book obsessed vegetarian...

  •  Okami (Wii): staying with the gaming theme, this game is exceptionally special to me. Already owning, and loving, the PS2 version, I want the Wii version so that my sister and parents can experience the beauty that is Okami on a console they are more comfortable with. The last game made by the spectacular Clover Studio before the idiots running Capcom shut them down; Okami is an adventure game that draws you in with it's unique art style and play concept. If you've never played a game, get this and a second hand Wii. You'll thank me for it :)
  •  The Black Fish, Grey Zipped Hoodie: Sustainability and fighting to create sustainable energy and food sources, is something I've been interested in for a while. The Black Fish is a group who are trying to get world leaders to see sense and organise sustainable fishing practices. When I have enough, I'll be more than happy to give them money and support their cause by looking awesome in this hoodie!

February's 365/30: 10/28 My top must have pens are...

10. My top must have pens are...

Oh dear... This is not a question you want to ask a stationery addicted graphic designer! How much time do you have?

  • Faber Castell: Anything by Faber Castell makes me incessantly happy! I've used these pens for years due to their versatility and incredible life span. They're almost like the Fairy Liquid of the of the art-pen world (this may vary between users). I'm a sucker for bold outlines and noticable details, so the variety of thicknesses and quality of the finish (unless my hand isn't quite as steady as I want it tot be) makes me proud of almost every piece of work I've used them on. I highly recommend these pens to anyone who is arty or creative. A felt nib set of four will set you back about £9.99. I recommend waiting until you have a voucher for WHSmith, valid for stationery or art supplies, and use that to pick up a set.
  • Paperchase Mechanical Pens: There's something about the action of these pens that makes me really happy to use them. Slightly smudgy on finer grain paper and cards (I've already one card with my inky impatience) these pens seem to be made for filofax flex paper. As Paperchase is constantly creating new ranges, there is a design for everyone and almost every filofax!
  • Bic 4 Colour: I've had many multicoloured pens in my time, but none have matched the quality, strength and ergonomic design of the Bic 4 Colour. I currently own two; one for each of my Kingfisher Metropols (Oh? Did I not mention the second one?...) as the colour match of the blue Bic makes the designer within me very happy. Very useful for anyone who still writes things down. Comes in two sets of colours (that I know of), normally around the £2.20 mark from most retailers.
  • Frixion Erasable Pens: I first discovered Frixion pens in secondary school (that's  "high school" for those of you with alternative, and therefore incorrect, dialects) and then proceeded to forget about them until college/university. This may have been due to their unsuitability for check-box based examinations as the computer that is used to mark the papers has difficulty in reading the "ink" inside Frixion pens. Right now I use these for noting things which may change, like work shifts, and for labelling tabs. I despise filofax's recommendation to label your fresh new tabs with indelible ink.

February's 365/30: 9/28 What are your favourite guilty pleasure foods?

9.What are your favourite guilty pleasure foods?

As most of you know, I am both a crazy Vegetarian and a member of Slimming World. Both have had a considerable impact on my life, the food I eat and how I think about food in general. There are however, a few little indulgences that fit in with both aspects of my diet, and help to keep me sane.

Caffe Nero Giant Coin
Weighing in at a Vegetarian (but sadly not Vegan) friendly 6.5 syns, the giant chocolate coin is just enough chocolate to keep cravings at bay, without ruining my diet. The size probably contributes to a placebo effect of sorts, making me think I've got a lot more chocolate than I actually do. If eaten slowly with a large cup of strong black coffee, I can really enjoy this cheeky treat.

Mug Shots
The sweet & sour, tomato & basil, and chinese style varieties of Mug Shot are both Vegetarian friendly, and completly free on Slimming World's Green and Extra Easy plans. Not disimmilar to a pot noodle; mixing the packets up in your favourite mug and leisurely munching whilst relaxing or working, really helps keep hunger and comfort cravings at bay whilst on a diet. For as little as 30p (0.45 USD) each, they're perfect for stocking up on & taking to work or on long trips.

Alpen Light Bars
Another device used to keep me sane; counting as a B on a Green or Extra Easy day, Alpen Light bars are what I keep in my handbag for hunger emergencies. If you're having a really bad day, you could eat 7 of these bad boys (on a Green Day), using both of your As and Bs and all 15 of your daily syns (each bar counts as 3 syns). I wouldn't recommend it, but the option is there if it's just been one of those days.

Monday, 18 February 2013

February's 365/30: 8/28 My favourite apps are...

8. My favourite apps are...

My staple of favourit eapps changes regularly depending on my needs. Right now I rely on the obligatory social networking apps; twitter, facebook, linkedin, etc. But there are a few which I find myself returning to time and time again.

Colour Note
Despite owning a filofax which I am surgically attached to and fill with todo lists, I forget some most things I need to remember. Colour Note has been my digital savour for over two years now; its useful options for check lists allowing me to jot down anything I remember to remember.

The reminders are where this app truly shines, giving me the option to remind myself any time of day, with repeating reminders for bills. This app has saved my brain many times. Available on Android with widgets. Free!

Slimming World
 While I have many problems with this app (glitchy, constant crashes, lacking in basic search functions & bar code scanner, terrible database) I have found it to be essential in helping me keep track of my "syns" while out and about. If you are a paying member of Slimming World you will be able to sign into the members only section using your on-line login. While I do use this app almost every day, I can't honestly call it one of my "favourite" apps. Despite this, I thought it was worth mentioning for anyone considering either Slimming world, or using the app to aid in their weight loss. Free to download on Android and Apple devices.

I have used "the pill" as part of my birth control strategy for almost four years now, PillReminder has helped me keep on track! Definitely one for the Ladies...

Allowing you to choose which pill you are using, you can set the date you started your current pack and what time of day you like to take it. Once set up the app dutifully reminds you every day, at your chosen time and with your ring tone of choice, to pop your pill. Works well but crashes constantly. Free on Android.


My Week #7

Week #7 down! We've had Valentines Day, and Easter (or in my case Ostara, March 20th) is only 5 weeks away. Bring on the carefully portioned chocolate eggs!

On Monday my Mum won the raffle at Fat Club, so we went home with a big box of veggies! Great start to the week as it was also her birthday on Sunday. My main aim for this week has been to wrap her present and write her card, two things which I kept forgetting to do over and over again. I've also been trying to recover ground on February's 365/30, but I'm still way behind :(

Lots of Washi tape has been used this week because I needed to feel pretty.

See you next week!

It's still not too late to join in with Paper Lovestory's My Week.

Monday - Tuesday

Wednesday - Thursday

Friday - Saturday - Sunday

Thursday, 14 February 2013

A way to a girl's heart is through her organisational system... far more romantic than it sounds.

I hope you've all had a good Valentines Day, whether you're showing your love to your other half or those around you.

I had my Valentines gift a few days ago when by lovely Boyfriend visited. Apparently he couldn't wait until today to see my reaction. I bet you can guess what he got me...

The wonderful, and insanely supportive, ninja lurked around my blog and ordered me the exact binder I've been coveting for weeks! I didn't drop a single hint, I swear! We both think (and hope that this addition to my collection will help me make my way into the creative industry I'm trained for.

The best thing about the A4 zipped Metropol with handles, is the transformation it makes from unsuspecting portfolio...


Into buiseness ready briefcase using the snazzy handles which are ticked away in the side pockets...


Now for something completely related: More pictures!

Zipped edge

Inside Left: So much room for activities!... and business documents of course.

Inside Right: Everything in one place is the key to this filofax; Notes, info and examples of work.

Single elasticated pen loop, perfect for a Bic four colour or Frixion pen.

It may seem like a nerdy present, but I love it! I'm a very lucky girl :)

Happy Valentines Day Xx

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

February's 365/30: 7/28 My favourite books on organising are...

7. My favourite books on organising are...

Thos may be organisational sacrilege; I don't actually own, nor have I ever read,  any books on organising, let alone have a favourite.

I gave GTD a bash, but the Kindle sample failed to capture me, so I didn't invest in the full book.

My biggest inspiration for my organising system(s) comes from the filofax community. Watching videos and reading blog posts (though I have to admit to mostly looking at the pictures) have taught me everything I know about keeping myself organised.  Because there is a constant stream of information coming from the community, I will never get bored or exhaust it!

If I could recommend any book to the filofaxers out there, it would be Stop Stealing Sheep by Erik Spiekermann. You're all wonderful people, and I love the variety of custom inserts that are produced every week, but occasionally your use of typography leaves something to be desired. I become a horible person when it comes to typography. Stop Stealing sheep is a great place to start an education in type! If you like that one, try Just My Type: a book about fonts by Simon Garfield. It includes loads of brief essays on the best, and worst, uses of typography out there; with a generous helping of history for good measure.

Monday, 11 February 2013

February's 365/30: 5/28 Tomorrow will be so much better if I _____ today.

5) Tomorrow will be so much better if I _ _ _ _ _ today.

Get things done!

You know how thr saying goes,  "Do mot put off until tomorrow that which you can do today." I've been more than a little guilty of procrastination this week, so the things I'm normally on top of have built up.

Blog posts, to name one, are something I really have to be in the mood for; forcong myself to write often results in un-engaging, and often stilted, writing. Though if I'm on a roll with daily posts I become frustrated if I miss a day, which leads to blog apathy and a spiral of wanting to write but not being motivated to do so.

A lot of things I've planned to do this month have been put on hold thanks to uncertain job security. Luckily, all that mess is sorted out now! With a permanent contract, and the threat of having to return to the job centre no longer hanging over my head, I'm able to get moving again.

No matter how well we plan, be it throughly or months in advance, there can always be something that could throw you off your rhythm. The important thing is that you recover, brush yourself off and get back to business.

A Piazza my mind...

Earlier this year I had the good fortune of winning (partly by accident) three filofaxes on eBay; one of which being this gorgeous, red (though it's more of a salmon in my eyes) Personal Piazza.

Front: slightly ore-loved with a dent or two, but still lovely.

Whilst on screen she looks beautifully soft, and in the flesh (that's an unfortunate turn of phrase to use when talking about leather...) the texture and contrast of colour made me coo straight out of the parcel, I won't be moving in to stay any time soon.

I tried, I really did! But there was something about the Piazza's interior that I couldn't get on with.

The interior contrast is something, I think, a lot of binders would benefit from.

As I said, the interior is lovely to look at and the buttery soft lining borders on the quality of the Portland, but the pockets don't meet my needs in terms of both space and security.

Left: storage.

The left hand card slots sit delicately on a secretarial pocket. Whilst seemingly practical, the card slots have a stiffness that would make even the most untrained Metropol jealous! I'm aware that, with time, these may have loosened to accept all of my cards, but the design of the slots leads me to believe that they will split long before the required level of training is achieved.

As for the secretarial pocket itself; it lacks the security I get from the vertical pocket inside my Metropol. I dare not trust it with anything but the cheapest stickers and least important papers, for fear of losing them.

Right: zipped pocket.

Almost pre-empting this insecurity, Filofax chose to accompany the untrustworthy pocket with a zipped, opposite. The zip is very cute and feminine in its design (I think even in black the Piazza would be a woman's binder) but due to the tight nature of the leather, you will never be able to store a great deal inside it. Maybe emergency change or your bus pass, but nothing substantial.

Another issue I had during its brief use was the singular pen loop. I like writing in pen, but I always carry a pencil in case of changeable events, or rogue sudokus...

The supplied pen loop only accommodated a Zebra gel pen; if it were able to hold a Frixion pen, or if I could trust the secretarial pocket with a flex pen loop, I may have had less of a problem.

Plenty of room: holding two spare week on two pages, with room for more.

Superficial things aside, the main reason I didn't care much for the Piazza is that it simply didn't feel right. Yes; it's lovely, finely textured and is one of the most feminine binders you'll come across, but those features don't appear to be things I want from my binder.

As you can guess from my affection towards the Metropol range, I like a more substantial binder with plenty of card slots and reliable storage.

For now, the Piazza is sitting on my shelf with its brothers and sisters, waiting for such a time that I either warm to it or decide to find another home for it.

Here you can see someone put a sunflower yellow Piazza to far better use that I have mine.

Monday, 4 February 2013

February's 365/30: 4/28 Today would be so much better if yesterday I had...

4. Today would be so much better if yesterday I had... 

...gone to bed earlier.

One problem I have, as you can probably tell from the time stamps on most of my posts, is that I am unable to go to bed early.

I've never really had a bed time, even when I was in school I'd rather stay up and read a book (this was well before I owned a laptop) than go to sleep when I was supposed to. As a result of this I am almost always tired/groggy. Luckily I've developed a taste for strong black coffee so I can at least appear to function as a normal human being.

I've gotten better at regular sleeping this past year (by regular I mean 5 hours+) but my body clock is shifter over by about 4 hours; I go to bed normally around 2am and function best if I don't get up before 9am. See? It's the regular 7 hours, just moved over by a few.

I really wish I could go to bed earlier, but late at night is the only time of day I really have to myself when I don't have to worry about being disturbed while reading, blogging, or ogling other peoples planners on-line :p

Sunday, 3 February 2013

My Week #5

As I said last week, this week looks a little different as I've switched to a day per page. It's working out really well! There's loads of room for any ToDos I need to have, and I can even sketch thumbnails without eating up all the space. Totally worth £3! Thanks Staples :)

It's been a weird week. My weight loss at Fat Club wasn't any where near what I wanted, and I'm betting it will be even less tomorrow. I've not misbehaved, I'm just remaining sceptical until I see tangible results. Being told by a machine that you're losing weight is one thing, actually seeing the results is another.

On the positive side, I had a really good driving lesson this week even though it was half an hour shorter than planned. I pretty much drove for a solid hour and a half; lots of practice shifting gear, driving at 60, and market place driving. I didn't realise how stupid pedestrians could be until I had to avoid them! I also narrowly avoided hitting the group of pheasants that were crossing the road. The learning going the other way... not so much :/ Poor birdies. At least he didn't get all four of them.

Here's hoping that next week will be a good one. There's a 2/7 chance that I won't have my job by the end of it due to budget cuts. I'll let you know either way; and if I get the sack, I'll let my union know too :) Power to the people and all that!

Monday - Tuesday
Wednesday - Thursday
Friday - Saturday - Sunday

February's 365/30: 3/28 What thing(s) on your bucket list can you do/have before summer?

3. What thing(s) on your bucket list can you do/have before summer?

I don't have a Bucket list (I'm not really a fan of the concept) but there is something relatively doable I've been wanting to have a go at lately.

I really want to make a YouTube video about my filofax(es)!

The thing is, I don't consider myself photogenic and I find it hard to listen to my voice when it's recorded. I guess that being comfortable with how you look and sound are two vital elements in making a watchable video. I've seen so many lovely videos about other people's filofax-es; they make me so happy that I want to do the same in return.

At least I've got until the summer to work up the courage :)

Friday, 1 February 2013

February's 365/30: 2/28 What books have you read more then once (for pleasure)?

2. What books have you read more then once (for pleasure)?

I adore books, and continue to buy them despite owning a kindle. There's something about those tight bundles of paper stamped with ink that makes me happy. That said; I find it hard to revisit them.

Once I've read something, that's it; the book becomes a beautiful trophy of my triumph over the English language.

I worry that, if I return to a book, it will taint my original experience of the story. Reading a much loved children's book as a sudo-adult could remove all the magic it once had. Like watching the Harry Potter films after growing up reading them; a little part of you dies.

I will on occasion however, revisit books I've failed to complete on my first attempt. Bram Stoker's Draccula being one of them. I was far too young for it the first time round, but thoroughly enjoyed it once I had developed an iota of perseverance. The Hitch Hikers Guide to The Galaxy is another collection which took me two attemps to complete.

If I were to return to any book, Hitch Hikers would be it. There's so much in the series that's easy to miss or miss understand. It probably needs three or more reads to get even half of everything! Very clever man that Douglas Adams.

One book I probably should go back to is The Hobbit. I attempted to read it when I was 11, getting about a quarter of the way through before deciding it wasn't for me. Though unfinished, The Hobbit means a lot to me. It was the book I used to silence the teachers who believed that a child who couldn't spell couldn't possibly read, or even have a brain worth nurturing (how that school is still open I'll never know). It was possibly the first point in my life where I first said "nuts" to what educators said I can and can't do! Even when youre 11, no one has the right to hold you back or tell you you're not good enough.

February's 365/30 (28 really) filo-list

I've seen a few posts about something called 365/30 and I thought I'd jump onto the band wagon with the rest of you! I have been extremely lax with blogging lately; hopefully this will give me the kick in the pants I need to get moving again! Here's the list:

  1. Goals for this month
  2. What books have you read more than once (for pleasure)?
  3. What thing(s) on your bucket list can you do/have before summer?
  4. Today would be so much better if yesterday I had _________.
  5. Tomorrow will be so much better if I ______ today!
  6. What colours do you look best in (and commit to wearing them more!)
  7. My favourite books on organizing are...
  8. My favourite apps are...
  9. What are your favourite guilty pleasure foods?
  10. My top must have pens are...
  11. 5 things on my wishlist (make one if you don't have one already!)
  12. Things that make me crabby...
  13. I'm at my best when.....
  14. Who can I send an unsigned Valentine to, just to make them feel loved!
  15. My dog (cat, bird, etc) would describe me as...
  16. 5 things I can do any time, anywhere when I feel anxious...
  17. Things I want to be better at in March...
  18. Things I lie about...
  19. Fashion trends that make me say, "huh?"
  20. The excuses I use (way to often) are...
  21. My planner/organiser crushes are...
  22. What were the last five things you bought that you didn't need (and knew it at the time) but bought anyway?
  23. My favourite restaurants are...
  24. The best reasons you can think of to convince someone they should own a Filofax...
  25. Start your Christmas list today!
  26. 5 Movies I can watch over and over...
  27. What are you favourite funny words?
  28. Review of the month