Zebra Z-Grip Pens Review and Giveaway

I was delighted by this bundle of goodies from Zebra; I’m really enjoying my role as a National Stationery Week blogger!


I do a lot of handwriting when I’m writing up research reports and I colour code each theme as I read through my research notes.

These new Z-Grip Smooth pens are lovely smooth writers in a wide range of colours, violet is my favourite and I love having a wide choice for coding data.

These are a brilliant everyday pen, and if you want something a bit more fun look no further than the Z-Grip Funky Brights, with fun animal print barrels bring a bit of humour to your writing with something a bit bright and jazzy!

z pens

Zebra Z-Grip Pens Review and Giveaway

If you’d like to jazz up your pencil case and write with something a bit different I have a treat instore for you, I have eight of these great pens to give away to one lucky reader, just enter via the rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Kokuyo Staple-Free Stapler

I am delighted to be a National Stationery Week blogger, as a recent student and self confessed stationery-phile I love to try new products to the market. Kokuyo ’s staple free stapler is a revolution in stapling, it has no staplers but holds papers securely, magic!

Kokuyo Staple-Free Stapler

This little beauty makes two incisions in your paper, folds them back, then ‘staples’ the paper together using a special punch action – how handy is that!

I deliver a lot of training courses and frequently staple the materials for handouts on the train, this negates the need to take lots of additional stationery with me and can staple up to four sheets of paper at a time making it perfect for those powerpoint presentations and evaluation forms! As you guys know I also love anything that reduces waste so this is a pretty eco friendly option for smaller stapling jobs too.

I was sent the Kokuyo staple free stapler in green and couldn’t wait to give it a go, as well as securing my work it made light work of attaching some paper bunting I made for a blog background and the little arrow design is pretty unobtrusive for craft projects too!


I may have also had a few other bits make their way into my stash this week, Project Life cards, new washi tapes and an eBay accident in which I thought I bought a single Totoro bookmark but 52 arrived instead!


What do you think? Will you be trying the staple-less stapler?!


Deciding to get a tattoo or piercing in later life

I recently had an email from a blog reader asking about my decision to get my nose pierced in my 30s, she’d read this post I wrote about making the decision to get my nostril done. It is always lovely to hear from a reader! She had some questions for me and it’s taken me a while to get through them but this is my response which I thought I’d share here.

Deciding to get a tattoo or piercing in later life

The back story – deciding to get a tattoo or piercing in later life

My daughter’s birth was a real turning point in my life, but not necessarily for the obvious reasons. Yes, I felt I’d grown, I understood more of the meaning of life and I became part of that knowing circle of women who had brought life into the world, but more than that I had experienced a spiritual journey (largely reflected in the title of my blog!) Postnatal depression and in particular the subsequent therapies I engaged with made me question my core values, the things I held to be true and where they had come from.

Particularly I learned that I shy away from doing some things, things I might be really interested in, because of fear of what other people might think. I didn’t want to bring my child up to take on these same beliefs, but to push herself forward in the world. I had always liked tattoos and piercings but I wrote them off as not for me because I thought my parents, peers or employers might not approve. So I had a child, and I grew up!

Deciding to get a tattoo or piercing in later life1

I went from having no modifications to having three tattoos and a nose piercing in less than two years. If you’re at a similar point in your life and are debating whether or not to take the steps towards tattoos and piercings this is an extract from the list of questions I wrote to help me decide whether it was definitely the right thing for me:

· Have I researched safety and risk factors?
· Can I get a recommendation of a studio from a friend?
· Am I sure this tattoo design/piercing placement is right for me?
· How do I feel about people at work seeing them? And family?
· How will I feel about them as I get older?

My overriding response to these questions was that I knew in my heart it was the right thing for me, my first tattoo marked a special event, the miracle of birth, and it marked my decision to make my own way in the world, it brought a sense of “if they don’t like me because I have these modifications I genuinely don’t give a hoot” – and the three hours I sat in the tattoo artist’s chair gave me a strange sense of peace, it wasn’t painful, it was actually very therapeutic!

So on to the practicalities of the nose piercing; and things to think about when deciding to get a piercing. Here are my responses to the Q & A my reader sent me*

What’s your top tip for someone thinking about getting a nostril piercing?

My first tip would be to try to find a piercer who is well known in your locality by asking friends for recommendations, and pay them a visit too. I was still humming and haa-ing about it when I went in to visit the studio and so the piercer and I had a ten minute chat about it and it really helped to talk it through with someone who knew about placement, what would suit me, healing times etc. The piercer really put my mind at rest and talked me through why using a needle is better for the sensitive membranes of the nose than a piercing gun, recommended a type of stud, and tried a few different placements until we both agreed on the best look.

How did you decide left or right nostril?

Good question! I read an article on the web that said something like “the left side is the most common to be pierced in India, because that is the spot associated in Ayuvedic medicine with the female reproductive organs, the piercing is supposed to make childbirth easier and lessen period pain.” I thought this was really interesting and read that many women choose a left side placement for these reasons; I spoke to a friend who is interested in alternative medicine and she told me the exact same so I went with the left nostril.

How did you find a piercer?

I asked for recommendations, I am part of a huge North East Sling Library network so I asked my Facebook friends, the one I went with was mentioned a lot of times and when we met the piercer really put me at ease!

Did they numb your nose?

Nope, but it genuinely didn’t hurt, it was a sharp pinch and a bit of eye watering but nothing more, I would say it’s similar to the eye watering you get from an eyebrow wax!

How did you choose the size of your nose stud?

I asked for recommendations from the piercer and she thought a smaller stud would give a subtle sparkle, which I agree it does!

Was your husband and family supportive of your decision?

Absolutely, my husband and daughter came with me when I had it done. I didn’t tell my parents til after the event; they didn’t like that I’d had it done, but they do like the look of it and they’ve just accepted it

How did you feel and are you still happy with the decision? Was it worth it? Would you do it again?

I’ve had it in for about two years now and I don’t regret it, I love it, I like the diversity of changing the studs or popping in a ring for an edgier look. I was slightly nervous about job interviews but have never tried to hide my tattoos or piercings and have never had a negative reaction.

Am I crazy at 30 wanting to get my nose pierced?

Not at all, it’s a personal decision and one I came to later in life, I got mine as a way of demonstrating my self-confidence and it was something I’d always wanted but was too ‘conventional’ to try, having my daughter changed that, I wanted to be myself and so I started to project my own confidence back to the world

Did you get a tattoo or piercing in later life? What advice would you give to something thinking of taking the plunge?

Deciding to get a tattoo or piercing in later life

*Clearly I’m not an expert, but this is my personal experience

Midwinter snowdrops

Ah the snowdrops are here, spring is coming, look lively!

Today J and I took a ‘snowdrop walk'; a see what we can spot walk, and it was lovely, crisp, bright and lots to find.

gorse 1

Midwinter snowdrops


snowdrops 2

A lucky find, a bat box that had come down in the woods and my nipper was quick to investigate!

tinker 3

snowrops 4

In a comedy of errors we returned home to tidy the yarden and discovered these growing in one of our own pots right under our noses; I have no recollection of planting them and they’re a bit sad looking, but snowdrops none the less!


We’ve some tidying up to do, but I’m pleased to see our summer garland is still standing!



It’s at the faded Ibiza chic stage!


And the bamboo continues to do its thing much to my amazement after I feared I’d killed it off earlier last year!


And finally, some cut snowdrops brought back from J’s Grandmother’s house for me, gorgeous!


The Boiler Shop Steamer

Bored of the usual toon eateries? The Boiler Shop Steamer is a great monthly event celebrating great North East food, drink, music and art.

boilershop steamer 1

The Boiler Shop Steamer is held on the first Friday and Saturday of each month in the impressive surroundings of the Boiler Shop; the birthplace of Robert Stephenson’s Rocket, just behind Central Station. I love the warehouse feel, sparse lighting and smokiness, all those wood beams are gorgeous.

boiler shop steamer

Whilst we haven’t enjoyed an evening at the Steamer yet the Saturday afternoon slot is a great family day out if you’re a family of foodies like we are, plus it’s free entry until 6pm (when entry is £4 per person)

The food is street food, hot, fresh and plentiful with bags of variety and the smell inside the building is divine! You pay for your food with tokens which can be bought for £2 each and most vendors offer food for 1 to 2 tokens, with long tables for sharing food and plenty of standing room there’s a real buzz about the place.

We bought £14 of tokens and enjoyed food from Fu-Schnickens Kitsch n Crepe and The Hip Hop Chip Shop - I’d say £12 was a good amount for lunch for the three of us which isn’t bad at all for an afternoon out! J surprised us by tucking into an ox cheek steamed bun, they were soft and light and salty, mmmm, topped off with a banana and nutella crepe, delish!

I loved the retro Hip Hop Chip Shop Van!

boilershop steamer 3

I enjoyed their food the best, triple cooked fries, crab fishcake and an enormous sweet, salty delicious beer battered bacon slice that Joss adored, this was soooooo good, perfectly seasoned and really moreish this would be my ultimate Saturday lunch every week and this portion was easily shared by the three of us!

boilershop steamer 4

Later we headed back out to get some new shoes for our littlun, she chose these herself! Must say my muscari is looking canny here too!

new shoes

Then it was out for a walk down by the Tyne to burn some of those Boiler Shop Steamer calories!

Love this gorse against the cranes and wheels



And then the most gorgeous sunset!

boilershop steamer



Shoetique Review: Fit flops

As a tall lass I take a shoe size nine and finding good quality clothing and shoes that are both style-savvy and easy on the purse has been a real challenge at times!

Stockists of size 9 shoes are few and far between and it’s often frustrating that I can’t choose from popular brands; enter Shoetique who offered me the opportunity to review a pair of size 9s in the brands they carry, thank you Shoetique, I had no idea so many of the bigger brands are made in my size!


Carrying brands including Clarks, Barbour, Hunter and Emu Australia Shoetique have a brilliant range of shoes, boots, trainers and slippers for men, women and kids too! I spotted some great bargains for J in the kids sale at a fraction of the RRP which is great as she is going through pairs like there’s no tomorrow with frequent growth spurts! I’m a huge fan of Hunter wellies too, so it was great to find somewhere to buy within that range in my size too.

I was really excited to see that Fit Flops are one of the brands they carry in my size, I had heard great things about the brand but dismissed it as I thought I’d have to choose from the men’s range as I often have to for trainers and sports shoes.

Shoetique Review: Fit flops

Not so, these fab canvas mary janes are in my favourite mink colour and are really comfy as well as having that classic Fit Flop built in cushioning, even better you can snap them up in the great value Shoetique sale for £37.50 (down from £75). They’re super comfy, so lightweight and I’ll be popping them into my workbag to change into when I pick Joss up after work!


Now clearly these are more of a spring/summer buy so I’m styling these with more relaxed springwear for the purposes of this post, but there are some brilliant winter boots and gorgeous wellies also up for grabs in the sale! I love the cushioning of the Fitflop soles and the ballet pump shape but even better these are trainer-comfy so perfect for family days out!

Thanks Shoetique!

Shoetique Fitflops

Shoetique offer a range of additional benefits to customers including price matching, great service and free next day delivery on spends over £40, for great brands and great value Shoetique offer a winning combination!

Disclaimer: I was sent these shoes in return for an honest review, all views are my own

DIY Valentine Button Decoration

DIY Valentine Button Decoration

I’m reblogging a post from last year with a quick Valentine tutorial, something to bring you luck and love this Valentine’s Day!

DIY Valentine Button Decoration

You can make this little button heart in less than half an hour with some fine craft wire and an assortment of buttons. Just thread your buttons onto the wire one after the other gently bending the wire to get the buttons to sit close to each other, then when you have a long line of say eighteen buttons bend the ends of the wire together to form a circle, then bend into a heart shape and keep moulding the wires til you’re happy with it. add a ribbon and admire your handiwork. This works really well with little crystal buttons or a mix of crystal and silver too!

DIY Valentine Button Decoration


Washington Wetlands Day Out

Photos from last weekend at Washington Wetlands Centre, a smashing day out the flamingo were my favourite and the otters were a close second, a gorgeous retreat just next to a huge industrial estate! wp20 wp19 J loved these teeny tiny pinecones so we took some home to paint wp16 wp13 There were lots of little fungi to spot, so intricate Washinton Wetlands Day Out wp7 Otters, a total treat to see them playing wp5 wp11 wp1 Washinton Wetlands Day Out wp18 wp wp17 Heinz tomato soup, my ‘day out’ guilty pleasure! wp14 wp12 wp10 How’s this for an insect hotel? wp8 wp4 wp2 We loved our Washington Wetlands Day Out, thanks to my parents for buying us the day passes!
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall