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  • A Christmas reading list

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    I am definitely someone who benefits from small goals and personal to-do lists. At this time of year most of my time, including weekends, is spent packing orders and acquiring bruises from tripping over mailbags, so it's good to have a reminder to stop and do something different. This year I thought I'd actually write down a winter bucket list (inspired by A Beautiful Mess, love their podcast) of Christmassy things to do at home.

    I've started with a Christmas reading list and am hoping to read or re-read most of these this season. Some aren't strictly Christmas-themed but have a wintery and cold vibe, perfect for a cosy read beside a fire. Under my rules, dipping into these for a chapter or so still qualifies as done, time to tick! Tip no. 1 for any list, make it achievable and if possible write on there something you've already finished!

    A Christmas reading list

    A Christmas reading list

    - Each year my local Waterstones has a table filled to the brim of Christmas murder mysteries (my favourite genre), often old re-published books by authors who'd otherwise be out of print. I still haven't read last year's purchase (from that time when I spent most of Christmas alone but weirdly accomplished nothing.) Hopefully this year I'll finish a Mystery in White: A Christmas Crime Story by J. Jefferson Farjeon.

    - A Christmas Railway Mystery by Edward Marston is part of a very easy-to-read detective series set in the 1800s. It's probably in the 'you'll never re-read' category, so I'd suggest looking in your local library - mine has the whole series. All the same I've forgotten what happened so I think I'll give it another go one Sunday afternoon.

    - Snow, a poem by Louis MacNeice (from The Collected Poems of Louis MacNeice). I went to school with his great-niece, my first interaction with anyone 'famous', and my introduction to his work was not any more sophisticated than that. This was a teenager I went to gigs with in village halls around the country when we barely had our driving licenses, in cargo pants and DM boots and somehow the family connection came to light on one of those drives. Still, I like his poetry very much. (Also this travel book Letters from Iceland of correspondence between him and W.H. Auden.)

    - The Snow Tourist by Charlie English - from a huge collection of similarly-themed travel books I acquired at a time when I thought I'd go to the Antarctic for a significant birthday. Spoiler: I didn't.

    - Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild, which has more Christmas scenes than I remembered. I've already ticked this off by watching the wonderful BBC adaptation while writing this piece (under my rules, this qualifies). Reading this book as a child gave me one of my first experiences of London, and I've often thought of it fondly when near the Victoria and Albert Museum, in the area where it's set. 

    - The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, where it's always winter but never Christmas.  I don't think I've ever read it the whole way through. I love C.S. Lewis (the last paragraph of The Last Battle, the last book in the Narnia series, is one of my favourite pieces of prose, full of hope) so a few chapters must be achievable!

    - A Winter Book: Selected Stories by Tove Jansson (who wrote the Moomins, a recommendation from Ruth of Still September.)

    - Night before Christmas by Robert Sabuda (I love a classic pop-up book.) I always thought I'd collect pop-up books as an adult (as well as snow globes.)  So far I have one of each which I consider great progress. Small steps!

    Have you any suggestions of wintery books (or maybe poems might be more achievable at this point!) I should add?

    ***

    I love a tick-off list and playing with washi tape so I've written my list in my Moleskine bullet journal, decorated with holly washi tape stickers, planner stickers, and Christmas washi tape.

  • Rifle Paper Co calendars 2022

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    SHOULD I BUY A RIFLE PAPER CO CALENDAR THIS YEAR?

    As usual, I have all the styles of Rifle Paper Co 2022 calendars in stock! I’ve been stocking Rifle Paper Co calendars and planners since they first came out and they’ve obviously been a bestseller for them as a brand. They’ve extended the range of designs and styles in the years since, with some repeated popular themes. I have lots of repeat customers, many of them male, so I suspect a lot of calendar purchases are gifts. If you need convincing, there's a bit of detail below about each of the designs.

    APPOINTMENT CALENDARS

    If you like a visual representation of your month (rather than in your phone), the appointment calendars have a large space for writing in upcoming engagements. I know some families like to have a wall calendar hanging in the kitchen so everyone can keep on top of what's coming up.

    If you like a pretty floral design, there is always a calendar in both a portrait and landscape format. This year's calendars are the Rifle Paper Co 2022 Marguerite appointment calendar (horizontal) and the Rifle Paper Co 2022 Luxembourg appointment calendar (vertical). In my opinion the Marguerite calendar is a bit prettier as the background of the pages is a mix of white and pastels so each month is more varied and there's an extra column for notes on the right - we've added every month so the product pages so you can see the different designs. However, somehow I visually prefer a vertical calendar so it might just depend what fits best in your space.

    Rifle Paper Co 2022 appointment calendars

    There are a couple of downsides to these calendars which it's worth flagging. The beginning of the week on the Rifle Paper Co calendars starts on Sunday and runs to Saturday, so if you prefer your calendar week to run Monday - Sunday, this might not be the calendar for you. Also as it's a US brand, it won't have all the UK bank holidays on it so you'll need to write those in, but maybe having to add in the bonus Queen's Jubilee bank holidays by hand (on Friday 3rd June, with the late May bank holiday moved to Thursday 2nd June) will prompt you early in the year to start making an exciting plan for the extended weekend!

    INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES CALENDAR

    Rifle Paper Co do love an inspirational quote or two (this card with a Matisse quote is popular), and their planners have a different quote on each page) so if you like that kind of uplifting motivation, you'll like this vertical calendar.

    If you'd like to make some cheap artwork, if there’s a quote you particularly love you could neatly cut off the illustration above the month and frame it. I haven’t used them personally but I was convinced by Alexandra Stedman's endorsement of Easyframe (on this IGTV about affordable framing) so I'm going to give it a go. Their custom mounts and frames are inexpensive.

    Rifle Paper Co quotes calendar 2022

    TRAVEL CALENDAR

    Is 2022 the year you’ll start travelling further afield? I find myself searching for ‘films set in New York’ on Netflix for a glimpse of my favourite city but it still might be a while before I get there or feel comfortable doing so. You can satisfy your wanderlust (albeit just a little!) with the Rifle Paper Co 2022 travel calendar which has illustrations of many dream destinations including France, Mexico and Iceland – many people obviously feel the same because they bring out this calendar every year in both the wall-hung format and a desk calendar.

    Rifle Paper Co 2022 world traveler calendar

    DESK CALENDARS

    Are you someone who likes to style up their workspace? The Rifle Paper Co desk calendars (this year there is a floral and travel design) have pretty illustrations and are spiral-bound so they stand nicely. I think these are for real fans of the Rifle brand because they don’t have the days of the weeks on them, and they run Sunday – Saturday which might not be the most logical layout for you, but they are definitely aesthetically very pleasing!

    Rifle Paper Co 2022 desk calendars

    ***

    Shop Rifle Paper Co calendars here

    Shop Rifle Paper Co planners here

  • Styling with leaf gift tags

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    These pretty end-of-summer scenes were created by Charlotte from LottsandLots who I met when she volunteered to help at a crafternoon I organised over a decade ago! Charlotte now runs her own creative workshops and sells beautiful posies grown in her back garden flower farm! 

    I love how Charlotte mixes my stationery with her own fabric scraps and natural elements. The gift wrap and table settings below use these leaf gift tags and also feature this country garden greetings card and autumnal plant gift tags

    flower press party

    Late summer styling

  • Storage.it 2021 2022 planners

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    Storage.it 2022 planners

    I love these Japanese planners by Marks Inc, which are my favourite of all the planners I stock. As someone who spends at least 10 minutes every single day looking for my house keys, I love the zip cover where in theory my pens can have a forever home (for 2022 anyway!) These Korean point pens complement the bright colours of these planners perfectly! I'm also always searching for concert tickets and stamps and think these covers make a great storage spot.

    Storage.it 2021 2022 planners

    The diaries begin in September 2021, so are perfect for back-to-school or post-lockdown planning! Their covers are made from recycled PVC, they are a handy A5 size and as well as monthly pages, each day has 16 hour slots for detailed planning.

    Marks inc 2022 planners

    The planners come in 3 main designs, the classic storage.it range, their colour-blocked Colors range and this year there are new geometric designs. 

    You can check out the full range of storage.it 2022 planners here.

  • Why should I buy a Rifle Paper Co planner?

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    why buy a Rifle Paper Co planner?

    This year's Rifle Paper Co 2021 2022 planners are now in stock. These 17-month diaries are a perennial favourite, these are some of the reasons I think they're a great option if you are a lover of writing things down in a physical planner.

    1. Painterly florals

    Anna Bond's gouache paintings of florals are her signature style - and this year all the planner covers are floral (in previous years they've had at least one non-floral design), so these are obviously the customers' favourites too! The strong floral designs make the prettiest covers, and complement lots of the other stationery in their range.

    2. Inspirational quotes

    Each week has an inspirational quote to motivate you for the week ahead. I love turning the page to see what that week's quote is, from a selection of leaders, game-changers, authors and poets. We all need that little boost of encouragement!

    Rifle Paper Co 2022 planners

    3. Lies flat

    It seems obvious, but last year I discontinued a line of planners because they didn't easily lie flat when open. Even the Rifle Paper Co planners with a covered spine lie perfectly flat, because the spine conceals spiral-binding (which you can see in the photos above.)

    Rifle Paper Co planners 2022

     4. Pretty pockets

    One of my favourite features are the pretty pockets for stashing receipts, tickets, and keepsake letters. I love their bright floral designs (and the dove poking out of the dovecote planner). As we come out of lockdown here in the UK, I've booked a few tickets for events later in the year (hello, Buckingham Palace gardens!) and they're all stashed here, ready to go and easy to find.

    planner stickers

     5. Fun planner stickers!

    Each planner has pages of fun planner stickers for marking those special and also those ordinary days! Look carefully and you'll spot our favourites, including pretzel and book stickers, and the avocado face masks to mark a spa day! And as a bonus - extra planner stickers are available to buy if you run out. There are quite a lot of stickers though (130) so sometimes I use the spares to decorate envelopes of special birthday cards etc.

    What are this year's Rifle Paper Co 2021 2022 planners?

    Their planner range for this year includes their classic large and medium-sized planners pictured above, which run from August 2021 to December 2022. They've streamlined the number of styles, so they are available in only the following 4 designs:

    - Rifle Paper Co 2022 Marguerite large 17 month planner

    - Rifle Paper Co 2022 Wildwood large 17 month planner

    - Rifle Paper Co 2022 Hydrangea 17 month planner

    - Rifle Paper Co 2022 Dovecote 17 month planner

    And also a new academic year format, a stream-lined planner with floral monthly pages and extra pages of notes at the end.

    - Rifle Paper Co 2022 Academic year Luxembourg planner

    Check out the full range here.

    Their 12-month planners will be in stock in July.

  • Gift wrapping with cherry blossom stickers

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    I'm a big fan of cute washi tape stickers, used below to decorate plain gift tags, and layered onto kraft and white paper for an easy but personalised look. These are cherry blossom washi tape stickers, perfect for spring and summer gift wrap. How would you use yours?

    layered brown kraft gift wrap

    washi tape stickers gift wrap

    cherry blossom stickers gift wrap

    Gift tags cherry blossom stickerstulle and silk gift wrap

    Photos and wrapping by Charlotte Smith.
  • Post-lockdown cards

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    Post lockdown cards

    As lockdown ceases in the UK, we're looking forward to seeing friends and families, group activities and trips further than our local area.

    Here are some cards to send to those you're hoping to see soon:

    - For a trip to an art gallery

    - For an in-person yoga class

    - Or for trips to the countryside for a picnic, or to the beach.

    I hope you're feeling safe where you are, and hopeful about times ahead. 

  • Letterpress cards in the UK

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    Letterpress cards UK

    I love letterpress cards! When I first started this business, over 10 years ago, letterpress cards were a big thing in the US, but the trend hadn't yet made it over to the UK. I wanted to stock these beautiful, tactile cards and at first I stocked lots of independent brands from US designers.

    Now I stock Egg Press and Rifle Paper Co letterpress cards, both of which are still US brands, but are printed in the UK on a 1962 Heidelberg Windmill Platen press. 

    What is letterpress printing?

    Letterpress printing is a method of relief printing. Using a printing press, usually vintage presses due to the hand-printed and old-fashioned nature of the process, a raised design creates an impression on soft cotton paper. The cards are usually high-quality due to the premium quality of the paper required, with the added care of independent designers who still love this hand-printed method.

    Check out my range of letterpress cards here.

  • Washi tape stickers

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    If you've been following me on Instagram, you'll have easily spotted that my favourite product discovery of the last year has been these washi tape stickers! I love some easy crafting, so I find it very satisfying to just add a few when posting my favourite cards, or for decorating plain gift tags, kraft envelopes or plain wrapping paper. How do you use yours?

    wildflower stickers

    Wildflower washi tape stickers

    Washi tape stickers mixed

    Mixed shapes washi tape stickers

    Washi tape stickersPastel flowers washi tape stickers

    Shop the full range here.

  • Rifle Paper Co 2020 2021 planners

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    Rifle Paper Co 2020 2021 planners

    Rifle Paper Co 2020 2021 17 month planners are now in stock in two different sizes, the larger spiral version and the smaller planner which has a covered spiral binding. These Rifle Paper Co planners have everything you need to be organised for the year ahead, including pages of fun planner stickers. The 17 month version is popular with those who like a longer overview, or who like to plan their year based on the academic calendar.

    In the larger format:

    - Rifle Paper Co 2021 strawberry fields large spiral planner

    - Rifle Paper Co 2021 Luisa large spiral planner

    - Rifle Paper Co 2021 wild garden spiral planner

    In the smaller format, which have a covered spine but are still spiral bound so they lie flat:

    - Rifle Paper Co 2021 Type A  planner

    - Rifle Paper Co 2021 strawberry fields planner

    - Rifle Paper Co 2021 Luisa planner

    - Rifle Paper Co 2021 wild garden planner

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