Writer’s Bloc 7th Anniversary Sale & Giveaway!

Neon Yellow LAMY Safari Fountain Pen

Neon Yellow Limited Edition LAMY Safari Fountain Pen

November 2013 is our 7 year anniversary! To celebrate we will be offering special deals at Writer’s Bloc throughout the month of November so be sure to visit us often to see what’s new. To kick off this event we are giving away:

TWSBI Vac700 Fountain Pen in Amber

TWSBI Vac700 Fountain Pen in Amber

HOW TO ENTER WRITER’S BLOC 7th ANNIVERSARY GIVEAWAY:

  • To enter leave one comment on this blog post.
  • Increase your chances of winning by sharing the Writer’s Bloc Anniversary Event with others!
    For additional entries link to the Writer’s Bloc Anniversary Sale – http://www.shopwritersbloc.com/ – on your own blog or on social media. Be sure to include a link in your comment to where you mentioned it. Each comment = one entry.

CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED.

Giveaway Rules:

  • No purchase necessary to enter.
  • Entries will be accepted now through November 18, 2013 at midnight Pacific Time.
  • Three winners will be chosen at random from all entries and announced on this blog on November 20, 2013.
  • Winners will be contacted using the email address provided with their blog comment.
  • The winners will have until November 30, 2013 to contact us and claim their prize or the prize will be forfeited.
  • Prizes consist of one TWSBI Vac700 Fountain Pen in Amber with a fine nib, one Neon Yellow LAMY Safari Limited Edition Fountain Pen with a chrome fine nib, and one $25.00 gift certificate valid only at www.shopwritersbloc.com
  • Not redeemable for cash – no cash value.
  • Gift certificate code will be sent to the winner via email.
  • Odds of winning depend on the number of entries received.
  • Anyone 18 years of age or older that is a US resident can enter.
  • Prizes will be shipped to addresses within the USA only.
  • Giveaway is being offered by Writer’s Bloc, 2403 SE Monroe St Ste A3, Portland, OR 97222
  • Email addresses and other info are only used to verify and contact the winner.

CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED.

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What is the Cornell Note Taking System?

The Cornell note taking system was invented in the 1950’s by Walter Pauk who was an education professor at Cornell University. This effective system for taking notes was made popular by Professor Pauk’s best selling book How To Study In College and is still being used by college students today. This book is still available if you are interested in reading the details about this effective note taking method and other study strategies.

The Cornell method of note-taking is done by dividing a page into 3 sections: Notes, Cues and a Summary section. Assuming you’re taking notes on an 8.5 x 11″ or A4 size page, create a column about 2″ wide on either the left or right hand side of the page for Cues. Leave about 2″ at the bottom of the page for a Summary section. The largest section is for Notes. At the top of each page write your name, date, topic and class.

The Notes section is used during class or while reading a book to take abbreviated notes and to copy any diagrams or charts the instructor may use. It’s a good idea to leave extra space between main points and topics so that other details can be filled in later and to allow you to read your notes easily.

The Cues should be written down soon after the class is over. Cues are used for review and study and can include such things as questions anticipated on an exam, main ideas/people, and vocabulary words.

The Summary at the bottom of the page is written after class and is used to help you find information later on. It is a brief summary of the notes on that page highlighting the main point(s).

Cornell Note-Taking Method

Cornell Note-Taking Method

Cornell University summarizes the method of using these notes most effectively this way:

  1. Record. Take brief notes during a lecture or while reading.
  2. Questions. As soon after class as possible, formulate questions based on the notes. The writing of questions is used to study for exams later.
  3. Recite. Cover the large note-taking section with a sheet of paper. Then, looking at the questions or cue-words in the cue column only, say aloud, in your own words, the answers to the questions, facts, or ideas indicated by the cue-words.
  4. Reflect. Reflect on the material by asking yourself questions, for example: “What’s the significance of these facts? What principle are they based on? How can I apply them? How do they fit in with what Ialready know? What’s beyond them?
  5. Review. Spend at least ten minutes every week reviewing all your previous
    notes. If you do, you’ll retain a great deal for current use, as well as, for the exam.

Several universities & websites provide explanations on how to benefit from the Cornell note taking method – here are just a few:
Cornell University
Florida State University
University of Houston-Victoria
Life Hacker

If you want to try to improve your studying by using the Cornell Method of note-taking you can simply use a bold pen to divide pages in your notebook into 3 sections, you can print out your own Cornell paper by using an online PDF generator, or you can buy a nicely bound notebook with Cornell paper. Cornell notebooks currently available at Writer’s Bloc include:

Rhodia Classic Meeting Book – Large with Black Cover
Rhodia Classic Meeting Book – Large with Orange Cover
Rhodia Classic Meeting Book – Medium with Black Cover
Rhodia Classic Meeting Book – Medium with Orange Cover
Rhodia Business Collection Meeting Book 90 – A4+ Large
Rhodia Business Collection Meeting Book 90 – Medium
Moleskine Professional Notebook – Extra Large, Black Hardcover
Moleskine Professional Notebook – Large, Black Hardcover

Have you ever used the Cornell note-taking method? What is your favorite notebook or paper for taking notes?

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Six Essential Back to School Supplies for 2013

Back to school is an especially exciting time for pen, pencil and paper geeks. All of those fresh school supplies in your backpack and new writing instruments in your pencil case are almost reason enough to go back to school! Here at Writer’s Bloc we are especially fond of these things and have a few suggestions for your back to school arsenal.

1) Notebooks

Need a lot of new notebooks? Check out our quantity discounts to see if there are any of your favorite Clairefontaine or Rhodia notebooks such as this set of 10 medium size lined Clairefontaine side-staple notebooks. Don’t see the notebook you’re looking for? Email us and we’ll give you a quantity discount quote. We’ve carefully planned our quantity discounts to give you the best value on both shipping and notebook price.

2) Academic Planner

Keep yourself organized with an academic planner that is specially designed to keep track of your schedule throughout the school year. The Quo Vadis Academic Minister includes 13 months of plans that run from July of one year through July of the following year. Its 8 am to 9 pm weekly schedule spread over two pages gives lots of room for tracking a detailed action-packed schedule. For something quite similar, only pocket-size, take a look at the Quo Vadis University Pocket Planner.

Staedtler Textsurfer Classic Highlighters

Staedtler Textsurfer Classic Highlighters

3) Highlighters

No school year would be complete without lots of highlighters for studying. The Staedtler Textsurfer Classic Highlighter is one of my favorites since it stands up to heavy use, can be used with inkjet printouts and can be re-inked with the Textsurfer Classic refill station. For something completely different try a Staedtler Textsurfer Gel highlighter. It has a soft wax lead that glides over paper effortlessly and will never bleed through, even on the thinnest paper.

Le Petit Prince Pencil Case by 7321 Story

Le Petit Prince Pencil Case by 7321 Story

4) Pen & Pencil Case

Corral your pens, pencils and highlighters with a flat-bottom pencil case that will sit upright on your desk. 7321 Story’s fabric Le Petit Prince Pencil Case is decorated with whimsical illustrations from the storybook by Antoine de Saint Exupery. If soft sheepskin leather is more your style the Clairefontaine Basics Square pencil case holds a good quantity of your favorite writing instruments.

Myndology Disc Bound Index Cards

Myndology Disc Bound Index Cards

5) Index Cards

Index cards are a useful tool for studying, collecting quotations, making flash cards and more. Keep your index cards in order and re-order them anytime you like with Myndology’s disc bound index cards. Exacompta index cards have grid lines so they can be used in whatever direction you want to turn them, can be color coded since they come in a pack with a variety of colors and as a bonus work well with fountain pens.  Myndology and Exacompta index cards are lined on both sides to make the most of each card.

Palomino Blackwing Pencils

Palomino Blackwing Pencils

6) Pencils & Art Supplies

Need to erase mistakes? Planning on taking a drawing and sketching class? Palomino Blackwing Pencils constantly get rave reviews from artists who prefer a soft, dark line! They are also available with a firmer lead for both writing and drawing as the Blackwing 602 pencil. Pair these pencils with a Clairefontaine Graf it sketch pad and you’ll be all set for class.

These are some of our favorite paper and writing related tools for back to school 2013. What are some of your favorites?

 

 

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4 Summertime Activities for Kids

Summer is here and kids are celebrating! It’s time for a break from school and the weather is great for playing outdoors. Busy parents everywhere are wondering how to keep their kids occupied during the summer break. We have a few suggestions that might help.

My Artwork Journal by Compendium Kids

My Artwork Journal by Compendium Kids

1) Art Projects

The number of possibilities when it comes to art projects is just about endless! Bring out the inner artist in your child and create a treasured keepsake at the same time with the My Artwork Journal from the Compendium Kids collection. No more wondering what to draw – each spread in this journal has a suggested theme to inspire your child to create a picture.

Staedtler aquarell

STAEDTLER ergosoft aquarell watercolor pencils are a fun medium to experiment with. You can draw with them just like pencil crayons and then use a wet paint brush to blend and wash the colors to make a watercolor painting. When you’re creating art using a wet paint brush you’ll need a heavy-weight paper to prevent buckling. Clairefontaine’s watercolor pads have the ultimate paper to pair with the aquarell pencils.

My Writing Journal by Compendium Kids

My Writing Journal by Compendium Kids

2) Writing Projects

For the young writer, the Compendium Kids collection includes My Writing Journal. Suggested topics such as “I can write about someone who lives in our neighborhood” or “I can write about my grandparents” encourage your child to write about how they see the world. It’s super fun to read these stories again years later!

Now would be a great opportunity to introduce a child who enjoys writing to the world of fountain pens and high quality paper. Many authors step away from the world of technology and write some of their best work using an old-fashioned fountain pen and paper.

A good choice for a first fountain pen for a young writer is the Pelikano Junior. It has an ergonomic grip that guides proper finger placement and the rounded medium-broad nib is easy to write with. The Platinum Preppy disposable fountain pen is very inexpensive, comes in two nib sizes and seven colors and is another good choice for a beginner fountain pen. Don’t forget to buy some ink cartridges too!

Clairefontaine medium size ruled notebook

Clairefontaine medium size ruled notebook

Clairefontaine is the ultimate paper for writing with fountain pens since it has a super smooth finish and handles fountain pen ink very well. Try browsing through the clearance Clairefontaine on our website for deals on notebooks that can be used for kids. Or try out either of the low-priced large or medium size side-stapled and ruled with margin Clairefontaine notebooks.

Calligraphy & French Cursive Handwriting

Calligraphy & French Cursive Handwriting

3) Penmanship Projects

Besides writing poetry or stories, a fountain pen and nice paper can be used to learn or practice French cursive handwriting or calligraphy. If you’re wondering what French cursive is, you can take a look on Google images to see many samples and learning guides. Since cursive handwriting is not included in the curriculum of many schools this is something that students may want to learn at home. To find inspiration and learning guides for calligraphy Google images provides a huge variety of designs!

To learn French cursive handwriting or calligraphy it can be helpful to use French-ruled paper since it has grid lines that are quite useful for cursive writing practice. Clairefontaine paper comes from France and has several notebooks with French-ruled paper such as their inexpensive medium-size staplebound notebook. Our blog post “What is French-Ruled Paper?” will help you better understand what is special about this paper.

Pelikan Pelikano Fountain Pen

Pelikan Pelikano Fountain Pen

A couple of good beginner fountain pens to use for learning French cursive handwriting are the Pelikan Pelikano with a fine nib or the disposable Platinum Preppy with a fine nib.

Pilot Plumix Calligraphy Pen

Pilot Plumix Calligraphy Pen

When choosing a beginner calligraphy pen keep in mind that the smaller nibs are easier to write with but are best suited for smaller writing. For regular size handwriting the Pilot Plumix calligraphy pen is a great choice.

Pilot Parallel Calligraphy Pens

Pilot Parallel Calligraphy Pens

Pilot Parallel Calligraphy Pens come with four different sizes of nibs ranging from 1.5mm to 6.0mm and can be purchased individually or as a set. Once again, don’t forget to buy some ink cartridges or you’ll soon be running out of ink!

Wooly Bully

4) Games

If a child has brothers and sisters or maybe a few neighborhood friends to play with, good old-fashioned board games and card games are a fun social activity. We have discovered from our own experience that if kids like video games chances are very good they will also love board games and card games! All you have to know is how to count to play a crazy action packed game of Halli Galli. For kids around 6 or 7 years old a story telling game like Once Upon A Time, or a tile-laying game like Wooly Bully will be fun. For kids 8 and older, try the beautifully illustrated story telling game Dixit, the zany rule-changing card game Fluxx, or Turbo Taxi a fast-paced puzzle game. Teenagers that are sci-fan fans will like Race For The Galaxy, other teens will enjoy Shear Panic the strategy game with Wallace & Gromit-like sheep, or the ever-popular Settlers of Catan. If your children haven’t tried playing Eurogames yet, get them one and they may end up being the most popular kids in the neighborhood this summer!

What are your kids doing this summer? We would love to hear about their favorite games, art, pen and paper projects!

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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!

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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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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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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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