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July 02, 2013

Our Blog has Moved!

We are excited to announce that we have moved the Writer’s Bloc Blog over to http://reviews.shopwritersbloc.com/ 

We are looking forward to continuing the paper, pen and ink reviews, news, tips and instructions over on the new Word Press blog. Please come and visit us there!

The content of the old blog will remain in the same place if you need it. Thanks and have a great day!

May 22, 2013

Contest Winner!

The winner of the contest posted on May 8, 2013 for the $25.00 Writer’s Bloc gift certificate is Megan (entry comment #3). Congratulations Megan! Thanks to all who participated!

April 10, 2013

From This Day Forward: Wedding Guest Book

From This Day Forward: Wedding Guest Book is part of Compendium’s Live Inspired collection which is meant to inspire, motivate and celebrate the world we love and live in. The inspirational quotations contained in this wedding guest book are sure be part of what will make this book a cherished memory of a couple’s special day.

Instead of just being a registry book for wedding guest names and addresses, the layout of the From This Day Forward wedding guest book is meant to inspire guests to share meaningful advice on how to have a happy life together. As friends and family write on the lined white pages in this book they will read an inspirational quotation on the facing page. The inspirational pages are a understated light-taupe color and are adorned with elegant white botanical and floral designs.

Some of my favorite quotes from this book are “It’s not where you go or what you do in life, it’s who you have beside you” - unknown, and “I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you” – Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

From This Day Forward is hard bound and is covered in a neutral light-taupe cloth with white and dark brown foil stamping. There is a matching ribbon book marker to assist in finding the right page. There are 80 pages – half are lined for guests to write on and the other half have quotations. Each wide-ruled page has 14 lines.

My favorite fountain pen to match this guest book would have to be the taupe colored Pelikan Classic M205.

My first choice for ink would be a dark taupe brown color of ink such as J. Herbin’s Cacao du Bresil.

If you would rather use a gel pen, then I would recommend the classy silver tone Pentel EnerGel Alloy RT Gel Pen that comes with a black ink cartridge. Your left-handed guests will not smear the EnerGel ink!

Are you planning on getting married this year? Congratulations and best wishes from all of us here at Writer’s Bloc!

September 12, 2012

Reminiscing with Old Letters

Recently as I was going through things to recycle or take to the thrift store I found a stash of forgotten old letters from my school days. These letters date back to a time when far away friends and family did not communicate with electronic gadgets, instead they often took pen to paper and mailed off their thoughts and news using a postage stamp that you had to lick. Believe it or not, there are people today who still prefer this method of communication, but they can be few and far between. Handwritten letters are still important since they convey more meaning than a text message or email ever could. What memories did I find?

There were letters from as far away as Europe, and letters from as close to home as the neighbors across the street. It was interesting to see how as my friends matured their handwriting, news and interests would change. There was lots of talk about the latest boy-bands and news about summer school vacations. The cards from relatives that have since passed away made me think fondly of past family gatherings.

There was funky bright orange flower power stationery that closed with "P.S. How is puddy?" I'm hoping this is referring to a cat.

The back of one envelope was spattered with fountain pen ink. Interestingly the letter inside was written with a ballpoint.

I found hand written poetry entitled "The Tale of the Seahorse." I do not think this is original, but the pink waves in the left hand margin are a fun touch.

Retro greeting cards are always fun to look at. They brought back memories of shopping in the local Hallmark store!

There were a few drawings made with pen.

"P.S.S. I really like the orange julius recipe you sent me. Thanks." is written on the back of the top envelope.

Are you someone who enjoys the art of hand-writing letters? Have you ever spent time reminiscing reading old letters? What is your favorite find? Why not take the time to write an old fashioned letter using pen and paper and make someone’s day special!



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August 29, 2012

Ten Tips for Writing Thank You Notes

(Clairefontaine Les Cakes de Bertrand stationery set)

When it comes to writing thank you notes I have to be honest - I have good intentions, but sometimes I fail to follow through. I have a whole box of blank, un-mailed thank you cards and stationery to prove it! As I write this blog post I have some feelings of regret over missed opportunities to say a more meaningful thank you. What tips can help people like me to express genuine gratitude to others?

1) Make it special. A hand-written thank you note using a real pen and paper is usually far more meaningful and personal than a text message or email. It stands out as something special in a world full of electronic communications.

2) Be prompt. When it comes to writing a thank you note sooner is better! Within a few days is best. It is easiest to write your feelings when your enthusiasm is high plus it displays good manners. If you do delay, limit mentioning the delay to one short sentence in your note and move on to the more important part of the message.

3) Be prepared in advance to be thankful. If I have to go through the whole process of shopping for a card, buying stamps and then trying to get someone’s address before sending out a note of thanks I will admit I am far less likely to get this done. Now that smart phones exist I have made it a point of collecting more up-to-date address information from family, friends and acquaintances and I can actually find that info again when I need it. This is very unlike my old system of writing addresses on scraps of paper that would get lost before the address got properly transferred into my paper address book. I also like to keep some old-fashioned postage stamps around so that I can put my letter in the mail at a moment’s notice. It is helpful to keep some appropriate cards, stationery supplies and a nice pen handy and stored together in the same place if possible.

4) Be specific. If you received a gift, specifically mention the gift by name. For example, “beautiful royal blue fountain pen” or “bright orange Rhodia pad” instead of just using a generic word like “gift” or “present”. If the gift was cash, a gift card or something similar, it is not necessary to mention the amount that the gift was for. Rather you can mention specifically what you plan to use it for.

(J. Herbin wax and seal)

5) Be enthusiastic. Express in an appreciative manner how this gift will help you or enhance your life, your home, your office etc. Write something like: “this fountain pen will be the perfect accessory for writing thoughts in my daily journal. I’ll think of you every time I use it.”

6) Avoid the negative. If something about the gift isn’t quite as you would like, it is not necessary to express these feelings. Avoid saying things such as “thank you for the beautiful fountain pen but I do not like the color blue”.

7) Keep it simple. Do not detract from the purpose of your thank you note by including a bunch of other news. Stick to the topic on hand and focus on thanking the giver. A thank you note does not need to be a whole page of information, a few sentences can be sufficient.

8) Add a personal touch. When words are hard to come by, other things can add a personal touch such as making a thank you card by hand, including a photograph, writing with a fountain pen, choosing a special ink color, writing in calligraphy (I wish I had the talent to do this), or using a wax seal on the outside of the envelope.

9) Conclude with gratitude. Restate your thanks at the end and sign your name.

10) Be happy! I’ve heard that recent studies show that by being grateful we can increase our own happiness.

From you own personal experience, do you have any tips on writing thank you notes that you would like to share?

(Clairefontaine Ladies Who Love Life stationery set)



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July 18, 2012

Get Back to Class 2012!

Okay let's face it. Almost no one is excited about going back to school just yet but here are some fun and handy items that can make going back to school a little less painful.

1) Staedtler Mechanical Pencil. The loyal pencil is a must have for every student. The ergonomic design of this mechanical pencil is noticeably comfortable for those long homework hours. The triangular barrel sits effortlessly in your hand for minimal fatigue. The design of the pencil makes it so you can use up to 95% of each lead unit! The texture of the pencil is also notable. It isn't smooth and glossy like some other pencils but slightly rubbery feeling completely up and down the barrel. This feature encourages the hand to relax as you won't have to squeeze it to get a good grip. The handy Staedtler Triplus Mobile Office also features a mechanical pencil.

2) Pelikano 2010 fountain pen paired with a Pelikan Ink Eradicator and royal blue ink. Pelikan pens are designed for students and professionals alike. On the top of our list for students is the Pelikano 2010. An attractive and affordable fountain pen that is made to be comfortable enough to write all day and durable enough to last all year in your pencil pouch, backpack, clipped to your planner etc. The wonderful thing about this brand is the awareness they have about the needs of their writers. Universal ink cartridges fit in the pens so you can utilize a wide variety of inks if you prefer not to use bottled ink. Pelikan giant ink cartridges are significantly larger than typical cartridges so you get the most amount of writing and the least amount of interruptions while you work. Let's say you cannot resist the lure of beautiful glistening bottles of colors and shades of fountain pen ink. Don't worry, you can use the Pelikan ink converter for endless possibilities of bottled ink options. If you are like me, the thought of having pages and pages of colorfully marked class notes (boxed, dotted, arrowed) is just as appealing as a wonderful closet full of pair after pair of colorfully designed shoes!

We cannot mention Pelikan fountain pens without giving kudos to the Pelikan Ink Eradicator. Most people would agree white-out has its place on their love-hate list. The ink eradicator is a dual-tipped tool that is a great alternative to stinky, messy white-out. The tool is easily used just like a marker to erase blue fountain pen ink. Just like that! Yes it is true, it mostly only works with royal blue ink so be mindful of your writing task or you may have to bring out that white-out after all. Nonetheless, when the Pelikano fountain pen and ink eradicator are paired together, you will find many ways to make this school year the most efficient and effective. For more information on the super sweet Ink Eradicator check out our illustrated blog post.

3) When looking for a pencil case we want something attractive, durable, and easy to keep track of. This is why the Fabrica Bookband is on my list of back to school necessities. The synthetic material is durable enough to handle a beating and yet the design of the pouch is tailored for busy people who need convenient access to their writing tools. The pouch strap fits around many sturdy medium size notebooks, novels or textbooks. You can customize your pencil pouch to be prepared for each subject everyday. Never worry about forgetting your colored pencils for biology, they will be there when you need them.

4) I am so excited to tell you about this year's super stellar notebook and accessories. Myndology is a US brand that has really blown us away. The unique disk binding allows you some of the freedom that you would typically only expect to get from a binder. The Myndology Letter notebook's paper size is the standard 8.5 by 11" and super smooth and thick. The best feature of this notebook is the unique binding method that allows you to extract AND insert pages cleanly. Yes, that's right. You can INSERT graph paper, discreet dividers (with pockets), blank paper (for sketchers), and even index cards all in the same notebook! If you don't like it, you can easily replace the contents with something different. This is ideal for serious students who require the ability to organize their notes to fit their unique style and set of classes. There is one caveat in the matter. This notebook is ideal for college students who usually take great care of their supplies. The convenience of being able to remove/replace pages makes them more prone to wear if not handled properly. For the younger student I would definitely recommend the Clairefontaine three-hole punched notebook. It is perforated, punched, and wire-bound ready for action!

We cannot forget our music students!!! They NEED staff paper. Guess what? It's on our list. Clairefontaine staff paper delivers that great heavy smooth paper quality in a notebook that will stay open on a music stand, but it is not so heavy that it will tip your school music stand over!

Now it's time to mention the fun things to make school fun and interesting this year.

Bob's Your Uncle punctuation page markers. Read something...does it make sense?....no? mark it with a question mark...continue. Yes, you can do that. Don't get lost in your reading assignments! Wanna find that quote in the 800 page novel? Mark it with a quote, move on. Boom! Done! That's why we love these sticky notes.

Every year many students will spend more time with their computer than any other person, place or thing. Let's make it look pretty. Get a laptop skin. Make it yours. Let it shine.

It would be a shame to forget our art students! For all artsy folk what's on the outside of their journal/sketchbook is almost just as important as what goes on the inside. Not only does Clairefontaine have a great selection of fun and funky sketchbooks and watercolor pads to choose from but they all are equipped with sturdy covers and that great quality paper! Go ahead and go wild, you will love their sketchbooks!!

Does this cover everything? Of course not. Are you inspired? Eager? Ambitious? Positive about this year? We surely hope so!



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March 28, 2012

What can you do with extra new or used notebooks, paper, pens and stationery?

If you’re like me and you enjoy notebooks, pens and other kinds of stationery, no doubt you have some extra supplies laying around your house. You know what I mean, the notebook or pen that seemed like a good idea at the time of purchase, but just didn’t work out as you expected it to because it was too big or too small or too whatever. Or maybe you just didn’t get around to using it for some reason. By now you’ve lost the receipt or it’s too expensive to return it by mail or it’s too late to return it. Sometimes these extra supplies are gently used, for example I’ll have a notebook that just sits around forever with only a page or two that have been written on. If you don’t want these supplies to clutter up your living space forever, what can you do with them?

1) The first thing I think of is kids. Most kids love to draw, doodle or write with just about anything you give them. They often don’t care if you’ve already used that pen for a week, or if a few pages have writing on them. Even if it’s an inexpensive fountain pen that’s laying around gathering dust, think about introducing a child of an appropriate age to the world of writing with fountain pens. Chances are they won’t get that opportunity at school. Children love to express their creativity with paper and writing instruments so why not find one to donate your extra supplies to.

2) Schools everywhere seem to be suffering from a lack of funding these days and many teachers would be thrilled to get their hands on donated items such as paper, notebooks, pencils, pens, and other office or art supplies. Many of these things don’t even have to be brand new to be appreciated by a needy classroom. If you’re wondering how to donate you can call a local school or Google “donate school supplies” for suggestions.

3) Friends. I usually get an eager, positive response when I offer extra notebooks or pens to my friends. After all, they like to try out new things too. I’ll usually tell them if I’ve ripped out a page or two from a notebook or used a pen for a few days, but they don’t seem to mind at all.

4) Be creative yourself and start a new project. Why not do a drawing a day for a month? Or a year? Perhaps spend a few minutes each day and jot down positive thoughts in a journal or notebook to help you to develop a more positive outlook on life? Sure, these projects won’t use up a large stash, but they can help with the odds and ends.

5) You could donate your extra supplies to a charity to help people in need. I’ve heard of food banks delivering school supplies along with food to needy families. Or there are many second-hand stores around that accept donations that benefit a cause.

What do you do with your extra or unwanted notebooks, paper and writing supplies? Do you have any ideas for interesting projects? How about a Mercedes car covered in pens? Any other ways you can think of to benefit others?



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January 04, 2012

The Highlights of 2011

It never ceases to amaze me just how fast a year flies by, and it was a busy year for us here at Writer’s Bloc!

One year ago the new Clairefontaine catalog appeared online and left us greatly anticipating the arrival of many new products from Exaclair France. Rhodia brought us R by Rhodia, a new line of notepads with premium satin finish Clairefontaine ivory paper. The ever popular Webnotebooks arrived with blank and dot grid paper and Rhodia pad holders came in four new formats. Habana Journals switched over from white to 85g ivory paper and the Habana limited edition artist collection came to us with cover designs by Keith Haring, Matisse and Picasso. Clairefontaine limited edition notebooks arrived with Courants d’Arts, Ladies Who Love Life, Catitudes and Les Cakes de Bertrand cover designs.

(Clairefontaine A4 Size 4-Ring Binder)

We chose to special order a few things from Exaclair France to round out the selection in our store. Clairefontaine A4 size 4-ring binders complement perfectly our selection of Clairefontaine loose sheets. Our French ruled collection expanded to include the A4 size Clairefontaine Pupitre Top Staple Bound Notepad and the Clairing notebook. We even got some pretty stationary sets featuring handbags or violets from the Ladies Who Love Life and Les Cakes de Bertrand collections.

What new things will Clairefontaine bring us in 2012? Take a look at their 2012 catalog (coming soon) and let us know if you have any special requests!

We love the flexibility that disc bound notebooks provide so were happy to welcome the Myndology family of notebooks and journals including their eco-friendly Bare series. We also special ordered from France four A4 size notebooks from the Clairefontaine Clairing notebook collection.

(TWSBI Diamond 540 Fountain Pen)

The stagnant economy and the sky-high price of gold seems to have had its effect on the world of fountain pens. The cost of luxurious fountain pens with beautiful gold nibs has become out of reach for many of us and steel nibbed fountain pens have grown in popularity. We are excited about the arrival of two great steel nib demonstrator fountain pens to our store: the TWSBI Diamond 540 and Pilot Prera. The TWSBI Diamond 540 is a large pen with features often found only in pens many times its price such as its piston filling mechanism and fabulous ink capacity! Interestingly this pen can completely be disassembled for cleaning or repairs. The Pilot Prera demonstrator is a classy fountain pen with a wonderful Japanese nib. The fine nib size is great for tiny handwriting or detailed drawing and is about equivalent to a European-made extra-fine nib. LAMY released its special edition Safari in Aqua Blue and an Al-Star in Ruby Red.

(Pilot Vanishing Point Retractable Fountain Pen in Yellow)

If you still prefer the feel of a gold nib against the page, one option for a reasonably priced pen is the Pilot Vanishing Point retractable fountain pen. The size of the nib is kept relatively small to enable it to retract into the pen barrel so the amount of gold required is less than other larger gold nibs. Another new reasonably priced fountain pen with a gold nib is Pilot’s Custom 74 demonstrator in clear, blue or black smoke.

(Caran d'Ache Fountain Pen Ink - Storm)

New fountain pen inks that showed up on our doorstep included Pilot’s Iroshizuku series inspired by the beauty of nature and Platinum’s Mix Free inks for making your own custom colors. Noodler’s Ink continues to expand their already extensive selection of ink and we added the Black Swan, Bernanke fast-drying and V-mail series of inks. We love smooth flowing Caran d'Ache fountain pen ink and their rich, dark Carbon black and deep purple Storm and were happy to add these to our ink line-up. We also welcomed the interesting bottle design of Omas fountain pen ink and their popular dark blue ink color.

(Fabrica Bookband in Green)

If you love paper and pens no doubt you also have a few pen and pencil cases lying around and we are no exception. We expanded our selection of Aston genuine leather pen cases and added some fun pencil cases like the Fabrica Bookband, PlePle Wrap and Vintage PDX canvas pencil case.

We especially want to take this opportunity to thank our loyal customers – we appreciate you a lot! Please continue to interact with us by Facebook, Twitter or email and feel free to let us know what new pens, pencils and paper you’d like us to add in 2012. Without all of you, this past year would not have been possible.

‎Now that 2011 has come to an end, what is your most memorable moment of the past year?

(One of my memorable moments from 2011 - a trip to the Oregon coast)



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December 28, 2011

Top 10 Writer’s Bloc Blog Posts of 2011

While reviewing the events of the past year we compiled a list of our top 10 blog posts from 2011. The results are based on page views, comments, emails and a few other things and they are listed in chronological order. We enjoyed taking a look at the past year and hope you do too!

Refillable Felt-Tip Highlighters

Seems a lot of our readers are concerned about the environment, reusing, recycling and perhaps even saving a little money. This post focuses on highlighters that are specifically made to be refilled.

If Fountain Pens Were Cars

Do you “drive” a fountain pen? If so, what kind of driver are you? Find out in this comparison of fountain pens and cars.

We Love Pencil Pouches!

Anyone that writes needs a place to store and organize their pens and pencils. Spread the pencil pouch love!

Does Fountain Pen Ink Fade With Time?

Fountain pen ink does fade with time, so find out what choices you can make to minimize the fading.

Get Organized with Multiple Subject Notebooks

With my personality I’ll always feel that being organized is a challenge, but it’s nice to know that there are notebooks out there designed to help!

Do I need a left-handed nib on my fountain pen if I’m a left-handed writer?

Left-handed writers certainly have a variety of writing methods, hand positions and paper orientation. Here’s my personal experience with using both left and right-handed nibs.

Dual-Purpose Planners With Room For Notes

Combine two books into one by using a planner that gives you extra space for writing notes.

Fountain Pen Friendly Planners

Here’s a list of all the Rhodia, Exacompta and Quo Vadis planners that contain premium 90g Clairefontaine paper. There’s a pretty good chance that if you’re a Writer that uses a fountain pen you’re going to love these planners!

Myndology Bare Memo Pad Review

The most eco-friendly notepads and journals from Myndology are those from their Bare series - find out why in this blog post. As a bonus, they work great with fountain pens!

What is Fountain Pen Friendly Paper?

Do you use a fountain pen? How would you define fountain pen friendly paper? Give us a list of your favorites here.

We’re looking forward to a new year of blogging as well as to a new year of insightful, thoughtful and creative posts from the pen and paper blogging community. Thanks everyone for a great year!



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July 27, 2011

Back to School 2011!

Is it that time of year already? Didn't summer vacation just start? As summer break quickly comes to a close, it is time for back-to-school shopping! Looking for unique school supplies that will set you apart from your classmates? Look no further! We have everything you need to start the school year on the right foot.

The Bare Necessities

No other demographic goes through spiral bound notebooks like students. Make each one count with this large Clairefontaine Wirebound Notebook. This notebook contains the famed 90g Clairefontaine paper in a standard USA paper size! The notebook is three hole punched and microperforated, making it easy to slip the entire notebook into a binder or tear out pages and add them to a binder. 

(Clairefontaine Notebook - three hole punched, perforated pages)

Too many classes? Limit the amount of notebooks in your backpack with multi-subject notebooks. Clairefontaine Twinbooks allow you to group two subjects in one notebook, keeping your classes organized and your backpack lighter than ever.

(Clairefontaine Twinbook)

Highlighter? Check! Pencil? Check! Ballpoint pen? Check! Felt tip pen? Check! Be prepared for any situation with the STAEDTLER Mobile Office. Everything you need to survive the school day in one package! These high quality, long lasting, and conveniently packaged writing instruments will come in handy anywhere from English class to art class. All four instruments are packaged in a nifty case that also turns into a stand, putting all your writing tools at arms reach.

(STAEDTLER Triplus Mobile Office)

Regardless of whether you are in Elementary School or College, #2 pencils are your saving grace. Be prepared for test taking and stand out with Rhodia Pencils. Be the center of pencil envy with these bright orange pencils, standard for test taking and a great accessory!

(Rhodia Pencils)

Stay Organized!

With so many assignments, projects, essays, tests, and due dates to keep track of, it can be easy to fall behind. Stay ahead of the game with the ultimate organizing tools! Keep your life in order and plan out each week down to the hour with the perfect Academic Planner. (Just make sure to squeeze in some fun time!) If you are super busy, want to be organized, but prefer less structure, try the Bob's Your Uncle Multi-Task! Planner. This planner is undated and color coded, redefining the term "organized chaos."

(Bob's Your Uncle Multi-Task! Planner)

If you're like me, there is nothing more satisfying than making a "To-do" list and actually doing everything on the list. Checking each task off one by one as you complete them. Move your checklists from that scrap of paper to a bound checklist! The Behance Action Runner and Googims Time is Money Checklist are both stylish and fun ways to prioritize and get everything done!

(Behance Action Runner)

Tend to over pack? (So do I!) As a student, I found that the best organizing tool was a pencil pouch. Keep all of your writing utensils in one place and have a conveniently sized bag for things such as loose pieces of paper, USB drives, lip balm, and keys. Keep it at the top of your school bag and be ready to jot down study partners info, on-the-spot notes, phone numbers, etc. The Clairefontaine Basic Leather Pencil Pouch comes in several different colors and shapes!

(Clairefontaine Basics Leather Pencil Case)

Enjoy the rest of the summer and have a great school year!

What are your back-to-school must haves?

(Written by Karol)

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January 12, 2011

Reflecting on 2010 and Looking Forward to 2011

It’s amazing to think that another year has already gone by! The bad economy dominated the headlines in 2010, affecting both businesses and customers everywhere. We are hoping 2011 will bring improvements for everyone. We’re very grateful, as always, to have such a great group of loyal customers who love pens and paper as much as we do! Thank you everyone for reading and commenting on our blog!

It was a busy year here at Writer’s Bloc. Here are just a few of the highlights…

In 2010 the USA saw the release of the Dialog 3, LAMY’s first fully retractable fountain pen. There seems to be increased interest in fountain pens with italic nibs with Pelikan releasing the Souveran M800 Italic and Aurora adding more italic nibs to their fountain pen offerings. Fans of the color blue were happy to welcome the addition of the gorgeous new Pelikan Blue o’ Blue fountain pen. Some Pilot Prera fountain pens showed up on our doorstep from Japan.

In the world of ink, Pelikan released the Edelstein ink series in beautiful one-of-a-kind bottles with colors named after a variety of precious gemstones. In honor of the 340th anniversary of the J. Herbin ink brand, J. Herbin 1670 anniversary ink was created and will only be produced for a limited time. Noodler’s new offerings included #41 Brown, Polar Green and the Warden’s Ink series. Not new to the ink world, but new to our website are Omas fountain pen inks and J. Herbin calligraphy ink.

New to our selection of highlighters is the ultimate refillable highlighter that can last a lifetime – the Pelikan M205 Duo Highlighter Fountain Pen. We expanded our selection of refillable felt-tip highlighters with the addition of Tombow Coat Highlighter chargers and Staedtler Textsurfer Classic Highlighters and refill stations. Also new to our shop are smooth writing gel highlighters from both Staedtler and Y&C Hi-Glider.

Last year was the first time we were able to place a special order with Exaclair to receive Clairefontaine and Rhodia products from France that are not usually available to customers in the USA. Some of these special order items included the Rhodia Bloc No. 120 with rainbow graph paper, Clairefontaine leather pencil cases, Carrie Chau notebooks and sketchbooks, A4 size Clairefontaine loose sheets in French rule, French rule pastels, lined, multicolor graph and white graph formats. If Exaclair continues to accept retailer requests we will continue to place special orders throughout 2011. If we get enough requests from our customers for specific items we might even add them to our store! Send us your email requests when the 2011 French Clairefontaine online catalog comes out.

The 2011 Exaclair catalog for the USA includes new items such as these that will be available this spring: Rhodia notepads with a "soft touch" coated cover, Rhodia pad holders in four new formats, Webnotebooks with dot grid paper, Rhodia pencil cases and pencil cup, Clairefontaine Life Unplugged Reporter style notebook, Clairefontaine notebooks with new designer covers, Habana Journals with 85g ivory paper, Quo Vadis journals with cover art by Keith Haring, Matisse, and Picasso, J. Herbin Luminescent Ink for calligraphy pens, best selling J. Herbin fountain pen ink in 100ml bottles, a new style and a new color of glass pens, and Clairefontaine Crok' Book sketchbooks with flexible covers.

J. Herbin and Pelikan both discontinued their rollerball pens that can be refilled with fountain pen ink. We are searching for new rollerball pens to take their place and hope to have some available to you sometime in 2011. We are still waiting to hear what the new 2011 limited edition color of the LAMY Safari will be. New lines of journals and notebooks will be coming to Writer’s Bloc in 2011.

We’re also planning on improving the way our fountain pen ink is organized and displayed so that we can pass along the most accurate color samples possible (on a computer monitor anyway).

Here are some of our favorite lists and blog posts reflecting back on 2010:

Office Supply Geek
The most popular office supply reviews of 2010 as well as the most frequently visited reviews during 2010. In addition, Brian gives us his 2010 Editor’s Choice Awards for the Best Office Supplies of the year.

The Pen Addict 
Sticking to his annual tradition, The Pen Addict lists the most popular pen reviews of 2010.

Inkophile
Inkophile tells us about her favorite pens, ink and paper for 2010.

Seize The Dave
Check out the top ten reviews and some beautiful calligraphy at Seize The Dave.

Inkyjournal 
Inkyjournal shares his discoveries from 2010. Wishing him good health in 2011!

Lady Dandelion
Lady Dandelion lists her top 10 most visited posts from 2010 as well as giving us her favorite pen and paper related posts and some beautiful photos!

Gold Spot Pens
Top trends in pen and paper design for 2010.

A Penchant for Paper
A Penchant for Paper tells us about her 10 favorites of 2010.

Biffybeans
Stephanie gives us a comprehensive list of her favorite pens, paper, inks and art supplies for 2010.

Does This Pen Write?
Snarky’s Machine loves budget office supplies and lists favorite product reviews from 2010.

Did we miss any of your favorite 2010 top ten lists that we should know about? Any special Clairefontaine or Rhodia products you would like us to import from France? What products are you most excited about in the Exaclair 2011 catalog? Do you have any suggestions for improvements or new products at Writer’s Bloc? What are your plans for 2011? Please share!

October 06, 2010

Should Children Learn Cursive Handwriting?

Whether or not children should be taught how to write in cursive has been a topic in the news recently. We thought we'd interview our resident teacher, Kelly, about her thoughts on this topic.

Kelly, do schools still teach children how to write cursive handwriting?

It varies from school to school, but generally after the primary grades (K-2) handwriting is not explicitly addressed in the curriculum. None of the schools that I have worked in teach cursive systematically or consistently through grade levels.
 
Why is this skill often no longer included as part of the regular curriculum?

Mainly it is because so much more focus is placed on content areas like math, science, and reading. Even while teaching writing teachers focus so much on organization and ideas that the quality of the handwriting is often overlooked. There is so much to teach in a day, and handwriting-- especially cursive-- just gets pushed to the wayside.
 
Why do you think children should learn cursive handwriting in this digital age?

There is value in learning cursive. It teaches students the correct way to write letters so that they can write neatly and efficiently. Speed and legibility are extremely important in standardized testing as students are expected to write essays in short periods of time, and those grading these essays need to be able to read them! In my fifth grade classroom last year I still had students writing their letters backwards, which was both surprising and frustrating. Those that wanted to write in cursive for their final drafts struggled and often had to ask me questions like, "What does a cursive 'D' look like?" However, students that had been taught cursive in previous grades generally wrote faster and neater, which is important as difficulty of content and expectations for quality escalate quickly from fifth grade on.
 
What can parents do to help their children learn cursive even if their school doesn’t include this in the curriculum?

Encourage your students to practice, practice, practice! Watch how they write letters and encourage them to use the correct direction and stroke order when printing. Generally kids think cursive is pretty cool, so if you can teach them how to write it they would be happy to learn (and show their classmates and teacher the next day). At the very least check their homework for spelling and legibility as these are two of the most neglected writing components in school today.

It is also very helpful if your students have the right tools they need to fit their writing style. This might mean finding thicker or thinner pens to write with, using wide-ruled or graph paper to write on, or it could be as easy as adding a pencil grip or eraser.

Thank you Kelly!

Writer's Bloc has some useful tools for learning cursive or for improving your own handwriting. Many of these tools are used daily by students in parts of Europe, where cursive handwriting is still being taught in school.

For very young students, both the LAMY ABC Fountain Pen and the Pelikano Junior Fountain Pen have ergonomic grips to assist with proper finger placement. These fountain pens have rounded nibs that are very forgiving and easy to write with. The Pelikano Junior is even available with a specially designed left-handed nib. Being a lefty myself, I can tell you from personal experience that this does make a difference.

For older students, the Pelikan Pelikano Fountain Pen has been in use by millions of students for 50 years and has been recommended by generations of teachers. Like the Pelikano Junior, this pen is also available with a left-handed nib option.

The LAMY Safari is another fountain pen that has been a favorite of both students and adults for the past 30 years.

Of course, learning to write includes making mistakes and maybe even spilling some ink! Washable blue fountain pen ink makes clean-up (including laundry) and corrections easy. Using the Pelikan Ink Eradicator Super Pirat Pen you can erase your writing errors with one end of the pen and then make your corrections using the blue pen on the other end. There are many kinds of washable blue fountain pen inks available in both cartridges and bottles, including LAMY Blue, J. Herbin Bleu Myosotis, Aurora Blue, Pelikan Royal Blue and Pelikan Violet.

French ruled paper seems very unusual to most Americans, but its lines are useful for guiding the size of your upper & lower case letters as well as the size of cursive loops & strokes. There is an example of this as well as a few instructions from DarkskyZ on the Fountain Pen Network (scroll down to find it). I personally enjoyed trying this technique.

What are your thoughts? Do you think it is important for children to learn cursive handwriting? What tools do you use to help children or yourself improve handwriting skills?

 

September 29, 2010

Environmentally Friendly Writing Tools

When you live in a city like Portland you cannot help but be environmentally conscious. When I shop my eyes dart directly to products labeled "organic" "local" "sustainable" and of course, "post-consumer recycled." Naturally, we carry many eco-friendly products at Writer's Bloc, and to help those of you who love the environment as much as you love to write here is a quick overview of the environmentally sound products that we carry!

 

The inspiration for this blog was the new Bamboo Notebooks from WRITERSBLOK. Bamboo grows quickly and prolifically, therefore making it an easily sustainable resource. These notebooks are made from 100% sustainable bamboo pulp paper and moreover, 2% of all sales from WRITERSBLOK goes to literacy programs around the United States. A great notebook from a company that is both environmentally and socially conscious! 


 

Clairefontaine prides itself for being an environmentally conscious company. All Clairefontaine paper is produced using pulp from sustainable forests and using responsible energy sources. Their notebooks have been certified by the PEFC, an internationally recognized forest certification organization dedicated to promoting sustainable forest management. Visit www.pefc.org for more information.


 

Another company that is stepping up to the plate is Behance. The Behance Dot Grid Journal and Behance Action Journal are both filled with 60lb New Leaf Paper. New Leaf Paper is 100% recycled, processed chlorine free, and manufactured with renewable energy. According to their website over the last decade New Leaf products have saved over 3 million trees and 900 million gallons of water!


 

In their collection of planners, Quo Vadis has included the Quo Vadis Textagenda Academic Daily Planner which contains 100% post consumer recycled paper, In addition, all of the refillable planners and journals from Quo Vadis and Exacompta are inherently less wasteful as you can use the same cover multiple times.


 

There is some concern about feathering when using recycled paper; Noodler's Ink has addressed this problem with the Noodler's X-Feather Ink- a slow drying, limited penetration ink that prevents feathering on especially absorbent paper. 

Of course, fountain pens are environmentally sound as you can refill and use them for years to come. Platinum takes this a step further- the barrels of the Preppy Fountain Pens and Preppy Refillable Highlighters are made from recycled polycarbonate.

 


 

Similarly the Pentel Slicci Gel Pens are made from 87% recycled plastic. You can use these colorful pens on the Bob's Your Uncle Writer's Block ,made from recycled paper this is a colorful and responsible way to jot down notes.

 

The next time you wrap a gift for a friend consider using Rice Paper instead of conventional wrapping paper. This beautiful paper is actually harvested from the bark of the paper mulberry tree, which does not harm the health or growth of the tree. Moreover, rice paper is dyed naturally, eliminating the use of harsh chemicals.

 

Need an idea for a gift? Consider Eco Fluxx, a well-known game with an environmental twist, Eco Fluxx conveys the message that your all of your actions affect the environment for better or for worse.

August 18, 2010

Back to School 2010

In college all the excitement of Back to School boiled down to finding the best supplies to get some super focused studying done so I could get on with my life. Happily, I graduated this May! In celebration of finally getting out of school, here are my picks and tips for essential college study survival for BACK TO SCHOOL 2010!

Clairefontaine Wirebound Notebook- Large, Ruled w/ Margin, Punched - This notebook is everything you need for versatile note taking. Wire binding lets you flip back and write in your lap when needed, microperforated for a clean and easy tear, and 3-hole-punched if you want to transfer your notes from notebook to binder.

Rhodia Pencils- Hardbox of 25 - Not your little sister's pencils. These stylish pencils by Rhodia are ergonomically designed and hellooo, cool pencil box for your desk! I highly recommend buying stuff that you will use every day in bulk, it will save you money in the the long run.

Zebra Hyper Jell Set of 10 - Break away from the black, blue, and red pens that blot and smear on the page and leak all over your hand. You can do better. These Zebra pens write comfortably and dry fast enough for even the speediest left-handed notetaker in the class.

Platinum Preppy Highlighters - Books, syllabuses, notebooks, study guides... every piece of paper a college student comes across is likely to be highlighted on at some point in time. These refillable highlighters are easier on your wallet and on the environment because you can refill the ink and replace the tips as needed for many semesters to come!

Bob's Your Uncle Punctuation Page Markers - All the best highlighting in the world will not help you if you cannot find the pages you need for class or study group. Use the punctuation on these great markers as a system to help you find what you need for the week!

Quo Vadis Minister Academic Weekly Planner - Trying to keep track of 6 different syllabuses a semester is a difficult task! Compile all important due dates and tests into a planner that you will use frequently, and then pencil in some time for fun!

Pentel Tradio Fountain Pen - Fountain pens write with less effort than most ballpoint pens so they are especially awesome for marathon note taking. Also, they can be refilled with your favorite ink colors to make studying slightly more fun. The Tradio Fountain Pen is sleek, stylish, and affordable-- just don't let anyone borrow it (unless you're trying to make a good impression :)

Please share your tips for focused, efficient studying and help all our students out :) Happy New School Year!

 

March 10, 2010

Alice in Wonderland

All of you Johnny Depp fans out there must be thrilled at last week’s release of the film Alice in Wonderland! This new adventure film is an extension of the classic novels Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. The movie is directed by Tim Burton and stars Mia Wasikowska as Alice, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Crispin Glover, Michael Sheen and Stephen Fry.

The original novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was written in 1865 by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pen-name Lewis Carroll. The first version of the story was told by Charles Dodgson to 10 year old Alice Liddell and her sisters during a boat trip up the River Thames. The girls loved the story so much that Alice begged Dodgson to write it down and give it to her which he did over 2 years later. This 1864 version of the story was called Alice’s Adventures Under Ground and was illustrated by Dodgson himself. In 1865, an expanded version of the story was published with illustrations by John Tenniel and the title Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (often abbreviated to Alice in Wonderland). The novel instantly gained popularity and has been popular ever since!

Alice follows a white rabbit wearing a coat and looking at his watch down a rabbit hole to encounter peculiar creatures such as Bill the Lizard, a caterpillar, a grinning Cheshire Cat, the March Hare, a Dormouse, the Mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts and more. It is believed that the characters and the places in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland are based on real people and places in Charles Dodgson’s life.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland can be read online as part of the Gutenberg Project. As of March 2, 2010 this book took the number one spot in the top 100 EBooks on this website! If you are an Alice fan you can find some fun Art Deco 7321 Alice in Wonderland themed journals, planners, wallets and more at Writer’s Bloc. We also have a couple of notebooks with cover illustrations of tall Alice and Alice & the white rabbit. What is your favorite part of Alice’s adventure?

December 22, 2009

It's Been A Great Year!

It's almost time to say goodbye to 2009! It has been a fun and exciting year here at Writer's Bloc, and we just wanted to say thank you for all your loyal support! We hope that you were able to find something to help organize your life or simply brighten up your day :) Here are some of the kind words that customers have shared this year:

"... the Writer's Bloc folks completed the orders with utmost efficiency--I received exactly what I had ordered, at a good price, with the items shipped within 24 hours of my order, well packed and with fast shipping. I couldn't have asked for more!... I highly recommend the Writer's Bloc." M.C., CA

"Fantastic across the board: from the website, selection, price, and shipping. Great blog, too. It's why I keep coming back to Writer's Bloc. Thanks!" K.C., CA

"Writer's Bloc went out of their way to accommodate a special request for a Clairefontaine watercolor pad that I have fallen in love with... I have recommended them on my blog and will continue to order from them in the future! Bravo Writer's Bloc!" M.J., WA

"WritersBloc is a fun website. It's like shopping in a boutique. I happened onto this site because they carry my favorite fountain pen inks (Noodlers), and I found a lot of other carefully selected, fun, high-quality, and reasonably priced items. I have also found the site to be very helpful..." G.C., CA

"Great seller. Great items." J.B., PA

We've added some great new items to our selection this year! We started with expanding our line of Quo Vadis planners to include the Habana, Soya and Equology covers in many shapes, sizes, and formats (all of which are now available for 2010!). Rhodia also added the Webnotebook and some great planners with the Rhodia Weekly Notebooks. Other new products from our favorite brands include the Basics and Mlle No collections from Clairefontaine, and new colors from Noodler's Ink like Bad Blue Heron, Periwinkle, Le Reine Mauve, and Polar Brown. Most of these items were flying off the shelves as fast as we could stock them, so we hope you are enjoying them!

Our family of fountain pens also grew this year. We were very excited to add Aurora and Platinum to our luxury fountain pen repretoire, as well as new pens from the Pelikan Sourveran and Tradition lines. A customer expressed interest in getting a fountain pen for her kids; we did some research and decided to carry the LAMY ABC and Pelikan Pelikano Junior fountain pens. Now any member from your family can find a fountain pen to suit their needs!

Finally, we have been working on increasing our selection of Eurogames from brands like Rio Grande Games, Mayfair Games, Queen Games, and Z-Man games. Our personal favorites are Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne, and Bohnanza... and there are many more to come!

Actually, we have a lot of great things in store for 2010. We will be carrying organizational products from Bob's Your Uncle (all of which I have decided that I must own), notebooks from Picadilly and Whitelines, and leather pen cases from Libelle.

We would love to hear your feedback on your favorite products of the year, and what you would like to see on our site in 2010! Please leave us a comment and tell us your thoughts!

Thank you all again for a fantastic year! Happy writing in 2010!

 

April 21, 2009

Action Method For The iPhone and Online

For those of you new to the Action Method, this tool from Behance is a great way to get your business and personal life more organized and make ideas happen.

The online and iPhone versions of the Action Method were recently launched as a welcome addition to the line of Action Method paper products.

The Action Method Online allows you to take any project you may have in life and break it down into action steps, or tasks that need to be completed. You can record and organize any information related to your project, make note of "backburner" ideas that you would like to give attention to later and discuss the project with your coworkers or friends. It also records deadline or event dates, enables you to delegate, easily reprioritize and check things off as they are completed.

The Action Method introductory plan and the iPhone app are free, and there is a more sophisticated version of the online plan for $12.00 a month or $99.00 per year. The iPhone version can be used alone or in conjunction with Action Method Online. I'm definitely going to give this a try!

Action Book

January 13, 2009

Thanks for a great year!

2009 is here! We at Writer's Bloc are looking forward to all the exciting things the new year has in store, but we also wanted to acknowledge how awesome 2008 was!

We had amazing support throughout our first year as an “online-only” store. Thanks to the fans of our brick and mortar store who took the effort to find us online, and to people who found us online and spread the word. We've had the chance to talk to people from all over the country, actually all over the world, about writing and writing products. Through your questions we've done a lot of research and have learned so much-- in fact, your questions were what inspired this blog, so keep them coming! We also really appreciate your sincere comments that help us know what we're doing right and what we can do better in the future. If you would indulge us to brag a little here is a sample of the comments that we received throughout the year:

“A very personal site in terms of the selection and the quality. You can tell the owner/vendor is invested and influenced by their personal taste, which is nice. I got my items very quickly and in fine shape.” -V.P., Illinois

“Received my planner within days of ordering. Pictures on the website showed the product in true form! I am very happy with my purchase!” -K.D., Virginia

“...The order went smoothly and I received my shipment within a few days ... The items were delivered without any damage and I have been a satisfied customer. I would highly recommend this company again for fountain pen and ink purchases.” - R.D., Oregon

“Fabulous store - they answered all of my questions... shipping was prompt and the items well packed... I will definitely shop here again in the future.” W.G., Texas

“I really like this vendor. Their products, layout, ease of use, pricing--all make it a first choice for me when checking out writing accessories.”-A.L., California

Thank you for seeing the love and effort we put into our store! Please visit again soon and drop us a line. Happy writing in 2009!

November 18, 2008

How to Apply an iPod Skin to Your 3G Nano

Applying skins to your electronic gadgets can be tricky, so here are a few tips to successfully apply a skin to your 3G iPod Nano.

October 14, 2008

How To Apply Nintendo DS Lite Skins

Here are some tips on how to apply Nintendo DS Lite Skins.

October 07, 2008

Book Wrapping Party

How can you tell a book is well-loved? The pages are worn in, the corners are a little bent, and the covers start to fade a little. I have many of such books, so my friends and I decided that to keep our precious books in "loved" form (and not totally tattered) we would give them a little makeover.

So one sunny afternoon we gathered our books and materials and went to a friend's home for a book wrapping party. We used gorgeous rice paper and contact paper to make our book covers, so they were attractive and durable. My sister got fancy and layered two different kinds of paper on one cover (top right and middle left), and another friend used her scraps to make pretty bookmarks. Honestly, I am not the craftiest of people so it was a bit of a challenge for me, but in the end I had four beautiful protected books (middle right).

From Book cover party

To celebrate each newly covered book we sat among our scraps and nibbled on beignets and sipped on coffee. We were all quite famished, so we feasted on a delicious fondue platter.

Just an idea for a productive, fun, and delicious party =)

September 03, 2008

How to apply iPod skins - Part 2

This time, it's how to apply iPod Nano 2G skins.

August 05, 2008

Back to School

Back_To_School_500.jpg

To me August means one last summer trip, new clothes, and of course new school supplies! As a student I know that having the right tools can help you be more successful in school, and as a future teacher I think that the right tools can help immensely in the classroom. In light of my love for school and school supplies I thought I would share some recommendations for the upcoming school year. (Pictures of my recommendations are in the mosaic above).

*Clairefontaine Wirebound Notebook- Large: Writing on this paper makes notetaking totally effortless. I would especially recommend this to college students who are planning to keep and use their notes even after the class is finished.

*Clairefontaine Staple-Bound Notebook- Medium: This notebook is great for any type of science or writing journal  that has to be turned in on a regular basis. The sturdy staple binding ensures that pages won't fall out (like in glue-bound composition notebooks). Teachers will love them because they stack neatly, and won't lean and topple over (which is what happens with 30 spiral-bound notebooks).

*Have a planner! Life is easier when you can remember what is going on. I like the Wish Making Diary because it's fun and I can write whatever/however I want. For something a little more structured I would recommend the Quo Vadis University Academic Agenda, I especially like the hour-by-hour planner for each day.

*Love Pet Pens- I love these little gel pens. They write better than regular black/blue/red ink pens, and they're square so they fit better between my fingers.

*I spend an incredible amount of time highlighting, and I hate having alternating thin and thick highlighting lines. I like the Staedtler Triplus Textsurfer because no matter how you pick up the highlighter the size of the line is the same. I also like that the colors highlight without being blindingly bright.

*I really like the idea of having a set of Red Rabbit pencils in a primary (K-2) classroom and using them as prizes or maybe as a "special tool" for when the kids need to practice their neatest handwriting.

*With the Staedtler Non-photo pencil teachers can mark up worksheets with notes and plans and use the same master sheet to make clean student copies!

*And finally... Yes, once again, I HIGHLY recommend the Platinum Preppy Fountain Pen. Taking notes with this pen requires a lot less effort (way fewer hand cramps!) and it forces you to write with better penmanship. The tiny extra bit of concentration might help you stay awake during the most torturous lectures, and you will be able to read your notes come finals week. Plus, being able to refill the pen with any color brings doodling to a whole different level. I suggest teachers try grading with a fountain pen; you will feel the difference after a dozen papers.

So that's the list. Hopefully you will find some of these suggestions useful as parents, students, and teachers. And if you know someone that could use a little motivation during this bittersweet season, the gift of a nice pen or notebook might be the ticket.

Please tell me what you like to keep in your desk, backpack, or classroom.

Have a great 2008-2009 school year!

July 29, 2008

Credit Card Wallets are so handy!

Card_Wallet_1.jpg

Employee Favorites - The Credit Card Wallet

If you're like me, you hate to carry around a burdensome large handbag with a huge wallet that weighs a ton. Instead, I love the light-weight, streamlined convenience of the credit card wallet. This tiny 2 3/4" x 4" wallet has clear pocket pages that hold 12 of my credit cards, membership & club cards, driver's license and gift cards.  I've been using the Lamb-Lamb Jungle Credit Card Wallet for over a year and a half now, and as you can tell from the picture, it still looks as cute as ever. However, with daily use the elastic closure has become loose and the plastic card pockets are beginning to tear. This is not a problem because with such reasonable prices and several adorable designs I am happy to start using this new Dreamer Card Wallet by Jetoy.

April 29, 2008

How to apply skins - Part 1

Writer's Bloc carries skins for iPod, RAZR, Nintendo DS Lite and laptops. Since the packages do not have detailed instructions - no pictures or illustrations - we would like to give some tips with pictures.  ;-)

hownano1g.jpg

April 15, 2008

Welcome to Writer's Bloc

Greetings

Thanks for joining Writer's Bloc for the launch of our blog! Our obession with all things paper has spurred a lot of research, experimentation, and creative ideas; this blog will be the place to share what we learn and love with you!

Of course we will talk about quaility writing tools, like Clairefontaine paper and LAMY fountain pens, but we will also talk about random, but useful things, like how to make book-covers out of rice paper and how to correctly apply skins to your iPod or Nintendo DS Lite. In blog posts soon to come we will look at how to utilize French-ruled paper and how to mix and create your own fountain pen inks. In addition to many "how-to" postings, we'll blog about our favorite things, great new stuff we've discovered, and well, whatever else we feel like talking about that week.

So please take a look around, leave us a comment or two, and check back often for postings that will be useful and interesting to you. If you don't see what you're looking for, send us an e-mail with your ideas or questions and we'll work on it.

Enjoy!