A teacher once told me, "Live for today, but look to where you want to be ten years from now." One of the prompts for my college entrance applications was, "Imagine you are 80 years old, surrounded by your family and friends and they ask you to talk about what you have accomplished so far in life. What would you like to tell them?"

Both of these questions have helped me put life in perspective, to treasure seemingly mundane moments and celebrate the big ones. However, my vision of what life will be like in ten years is blurry at best, much less sixty years. It is easier for me to ask myself, "where will I be five years from today?" This is the exact question that the book "5" created by Live-Inspired strives to help you answer.

"5" is an interactive "play"book (not workbook!). The pages are creative and colorful, and the prompts that you are asked to respond to are engaging. This book doesn’t focus on the "I should do’s" (like paying off my student loan), but encourages you to plan for the "I can’t wait to do’s!" (like teaching abroad!)

While "playing" through this book was not a life changing experience I enjoyed it. I really liked seeing my priorities, values, talents, successes and aspirations written down explicitly on paper. I also liked the inspirational quotes, life stories, and crazy ideas on every page.

I think this book would be a great present for a recent grad, a person starting on a new career path, or a new retiree. No matter where we are in life we’re planning for what’s ahead; this book is a fun reminder that it’s never too early or too late to realize our goals.

5 Book by Live-Inspired

"When was the last time you did something for the first time?" —5

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Platinum Pen Company

Platinum President Fountain Pen

2009 marks the 90th anniversary of the Platinum Pen Company, one of Japan’s leading manufacturers of fine writing instruments. Platinum Pens is well known especially for the high quality of their fountain pen nibs.

In the 1930’s the Platinum Pen Company began to manufacture maki-e pens including lacquer carving and pearl inlay. Maki-e is an art that has been around for hundreds of years and is created by sprinkling silver or gold powder onto urushi lacquer. These hand-crafted pens are popular among collectors both in Japan and in the West.

Platinum Pens launched the first water-based ballpoint pen in 1948 and began to manufacture fountain pens that used ink cartridges in 1958. In 1978 they introduced the model 3776 fountain pen, named after the height of Mount Fuji, which is 3776 meters tall.

The Platinum Pen Company combines high quality materials with traditional Japanese artistic craftsmanship. Their pens range in style from amazing works of art, to the flagship Platinum President fountain pen which balances the best in fine writing with an every day practicality, to the perky and popular Preppy fountain pens that are affordable for almost anyone.

New to the Writer’s Bloc store is a selection of Platinum Pens from the flagship President Series and the 3776 Series. If you’re craving a high quality extra-fine nib these are definitely worth a try since the size of Japanese-made nibs runs on the fine side. A fine Japanese nib is most often comparable to an extra-fine European-made nib. For those that like a nib that writes as "smooth as silk" with good ink flow and nice variation in stroke width then you may enjoy Platinum’s extraordinary music nib.

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Rhodia Webnotebook

Rhodia Webnotebook

The much-anticipated Rhodia Webnotebook has finally arrived in our shop and we found there is a lot to like about this new notebook! Rhodia notepads are known worldwide for their bright orange covers and smooth grid paper, and the Rhodia Webnotebook now has some new features to offer.

First of all, the paper is not white and does not have the famous Rhodia grid. Rather, it is a pleasing soft ivory color with grey lines spaced a comfortable 7mm apart. The 90g paper found in both the small and medium size Webnotebooks is made by Clairefontaine so it is super-smooth and is a very good choice for fountain pen users. When we tested it with a handful of our fountain pens we found that our ink did not bleed through the paper and the ink see-through was limited enough that you could write on both sides of the page.

The Webnotebook has an Italian leatherette hard-cover that is soft to the touch. It has a nicely embossed Rhodia logo in the center of the front cover and a matching elastic closure attached to the back cover to keep it securely closed. Inside the cover we found that the endsheets of the notebook and the back pocket matched the cover color which is nice touch. We also like the rounded corners and the matching ribbon marker to help you find your place. If you are a fountain pen user like we are here at Writer’s Bloc, the Rhodia Webnotebook might just become your new favorite!

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10 Tips To Improve Ink Flow a Dry Writing Fountain Pen

Here are 10 suggestions that might help to improve the performance of a dry-writing fountain pen or to get the ink flowing in a new fountain pen that skips or doesn’t want to start:

1) Sometimes fountain pens will come from the manufacturer with an oily film on the feed or the nib. Or, perhaps there is some dried ink or sediment blocking the pen’s feed. To make sure this isn’t a problem it would be good to try and safely clean the pens. Here are some suggestions on how to do this:
Fountain Pen Cleaning Solution

2) If you think the problem could be dried ink residue and a good soaking in a cleaning solution doesn’t help, taking it to a fountain pen dealer for an ultrasound cleaning may help.

3) Be sure that the ink cartridge is firmly attached to the pen. Once in awhile we find some writers haven’t pushed hard enough to puncture the ink cartridge to start the flow of ink.

4) Temporarily store the pen with the nib pointing downwards to encourage the feed to fill with ink. Then try it again after waiting for awhile.

5) Dipping the nib in water for several seconds can also encourage the flow of ink.

6) Add a drop of water to the ink in the cartridge or the converter. Sometimes this helps.

7) Experiment with different types of ink. Noodler’s Ink suggests giving their Eel Ink a try.

8) InkSafe ink additive from Tryphon Enterprises is known to be helpful. One of its purposes is to improve ink flow in dry-writing pens. We haven’t tried it ourselves yet.

9) If you are using a converter you could try using cartridges or a different brand of converter instead. Sometimes the ink sticks to the sides of the converter and this causes ink flow problems.

10) If the above suggestions do not help, it might be worth it to send your pen in for professional fountain pen repair. Having the nib adjusted (tines realigned, slit widened or narrowed etc) or having the nib replaced could solve the problem. Use caution if trying this yourself because you could damage your pen!

We hope this helps. Does anyone else have some tips they would like to share? We welcome your comments!

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