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June 30, 2009

What is French Ruled Paper?

Simply put, French ruled or Séyès paper is the standard lined paper used by students in France. It is as commonly used in France as college ruled paper is used in the USA.

French ruled paper consists of an 8mm x 8mm grid, with lighter or thinner horizontal lines spaced 2mm apart inside the main grid. There is a left margin, as well as some space without the horizontal lines at the top and bottom of the page.

This paper is useful for students to learn French cursive, and is an excellent tool for anyone to learn cursive writing, to improve their handwriting or practice calligraphy.

The vertical grid lines are useful to add a nice visual form to written essays etc. Indentations, such as at the beginning of a paragraph, can be kept consistent using these vertical lines.

Besides using this paper for regular writing and note taking, I have heard that some people use this paper to record lab results, do bookkeeping, create matrices, as well as creating grading rubrics. Others use it because they love paper with very narrow lines. I can't help but thinking that this would be good paper for creating crossword or sudoku puzzles, or maybe even for practicing Chinese or Korean writing. Whatever you want to use it for, Writer's Bloc now has an expanded line of Clairefontaine's French Ruled paper. Why not think outside the lines and give it a try to see why so many people love it!

June 23, 2009

Anne of Green Gables


The novel Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2008! Having sold over 50 million copies and being translated into many different languages, this popular novel was followed by 7 sequels, 2 films, several television movies and plays.

The story takes place in the quiet setting of Avonlea, a farm town on Prince Edward Island. Brother and sister Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert decide to adopt an orphan boy to help care for chores around the farm. Instead, they are surprised at the arrival of Anne Shirley, a red-haired girl with an abundance of imagination! Marilla and Matthew grow to love Anne and this series of novels follows her life as she grows up in Avonlea. Much of the story surrounds Anne's experiences at school as well as her adventures with her friends Diana, Jane and Ruby. Gilbert Blythe starts off as Anne's enemy and rival, but they eventually become friends and marry.

Having red hair myself, when I was a child I could relate to Anne's dislike of her pale skin, freckles and red hair. One of my fondest memories of this book is reading about the incident when Anne accidentally dies her hair green! I had wished I could dye my hair as well, but Anne's experience dissuaded me since at that time I definitely did not want green hair. Now I've learned to embrace the hair color and the rest of what comes with it.

Anne of Green Gables has inspired many travelers to visit this part of Canada and she is the theme of many tourist attractions there. If you are unable to travel to Cavendish, Prince Edward Island to visit the famous farmhouse, forest and other sites that the author drew inspiration from, you can enjoy these sights for yourself through the watercolor illustrations found in the Anne of Green Gables Diary from Writer's Bloc. This undated diary is sure to bring back fond memories of the misadventures of Anne Shirley.

June 16, 2009

Why Try an Ink Starter Kit?


The Noodler's Ink Starter Kit found at Writer's Bloc is designed with new fountain pen users in mind. If you've never tried mixing fountain pen inks to create your own custom colors this kit is a good way to give it a try. Instead of spending the money to buy four full size bottles of ink to try mixing colors, you get the convenience of four half-ounce samples which is enough to fill your converter many times with many colors. Sometimes people try ink mixing and feel that it is just too messy, too difficult or too inconvenient, so they decide they would rather just buy the ink color they want already made. If this is the conclusion you come to, it's no problem because Noodler's Ink provides a wide array of colors to choose from.

Once you've tried out a few different ink colors and decide that this is something you might become addicted to, you can expand your ink collection according to your color preferences. I have discovered that I like bright green and orange inks, so I use a lot of the color yellow. The bright green ink recipe that I'm currently using is 5 parts yellow and only 1 part Navajoe Turquoise, so the half-ounce of turquoise ink that the kit contains will go a long way. After using the ink starter kit I've decided that yellow is the next full size bottle of ink I will buy.  If you prefer shades of blue, then Navajoe Turquoise would be a logical choice for a full size ink bottle purchase since this will be the color you will likely use the most.

If you've never used Noodler's Ink the Starter Kit is a nice introduction to this popular brand of American made ink that comes in many different varieties. Most of their ink is pH neutral and safe for all fountain pens. Other Noodler's inks are styled after vintage fountain pen inks and some are even made to resist freezing in cold climates. If you're looking for "bullet-proof" ink that is impervious to water, bleach and light they have that too. Why not give Noodler's a try if you haven't tried it already!

June 09, 2009

Is it really cheaper to use bottled ink?


We found a very interesting comparison regarding the cost of using bottled ink vs. the cost of using ink cartridges tucked inside a Noodler's Ink box and wanted to share this helpful information with you.

According to research done by Noodler's a 4.5 oz bottle of their ink has the amount of ink equal to $72.94 worth of the least costly retail ink cartridges in the world. When you consider that in June 2009 Writer's Bloc sells Noodler's 4.5 oz bottles for between $17.50 and $19.00, this is around a $55.44 savings over using even the cheapest cartridges! In addition, Noodler's Ink has a reputation for being good quality, is safe for all fountain pens and comes in a wide range of colors, which is something you might not get using those cheap cartridges.

Quotes obtained by Noodler's Ink in January 2009 reveal that the ink in cartridges from some European, Japanese and North American companies sells for $148.00 per 4.5 oz and even well over $315.00 per 4.5 oz of ink. That is some outrageously expensive ink!

Using bottled ink when you can just makes sense - it is easier on the environment and it is by far a much better deal than ink cartridges!


June 02, 2009

Kaweco Rollerball Pen Winner!

We would like to announce that the winner of the Kaweco Rollerball Pen and Noodler's Ink is Sheryl. We appreciate your suggestions Sheryl and hope that you enjoy your new pen & ink!

Carcassonne Board Game

Carcassonne Board Game

The popular board game Carcassonne by Rio Grande Games is an excellent way to introduce yourself to Eurogames. The object of the game is to build roads, cities, fields and cloisters by drawing tiles, to control what you build with your game pieces or "meeples", and then to build as large as you can to gain the most points. Your success in the game is partly based on strategy and partly based on what random tiles you happen to draw. During one recent game, I was able to build a huge city worth a lot of points, but could not draw the one tile I needed to complete it - argh!

Part of the appeal of Eurogames are their well-designed and appealing game pieces. The well-illustrated tiles included with Carcassonne are based what you would see if you visited the medieval southern French city of Carcassonne. This ancient walled city lies on the banks of the River Aude and its 52 towers and 2 rings of town walls makes it a popular destination for travelers. Carcassonne has no game board - as players draw and place tiles during play they create their own unique game board with medieval cities and surrounding countryside.

The game takes about one hour to play, and is suitable for players ages 8 and up. The standard edition of the game is good for 2 to 5 players, but if you like more strategy and less randomness, then you will likely prefer this game with 2 players. With the addition of the Inns and Cathedrals expansion the game can accommodate up to 6 players.

The most difficult part of the game is learning how to keep score. Score is counted for cities, roads and cloisters that are completed during the play of the game. Once these are completed, a player's game piece or "meeple" is returned to its owner. All fields are scored at the game's end. 

If you like Carcassonne, there are several expansions available that add new rules, tiles and figures to the game. Many of these are compatible with each other and can be played together. 

This is an excellent game for friends and family that is simple to learn and moves along fairly quickly during play. You don't have to think too hard to play it, so even your friends that are not game-geeks will like it. Carcassonne won the prestigious Spiel des Jahres (game of the year) award in 2001 and is on its way to becoming a classic.

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