Wednesday, 26 July 2017

What's In My Pencil Bag- Part- I. (Stationery Bits)

Today I want to share some of my most and frequently used stationery bits. 
I use 2 pencil bags on the regular. What can I say, I am a total pen/stationery nut. 
Since it is a lot of stuff in total, I thought I'd split this post up in two parts. 

For today's post I want to share the smaller of my pencil bags, the one in which I keep some miscellaneous bits and bobs. 

Washi Sampler. 
Slim Washi Tapes.
Page Flags. 
Markers in pastel colours.
Calligraphy Pens. 

My pencil case/ bag came in a Planner Society Kit and I love it's bright colours. 

Let's jump into the stationery goodness shall we? 

Here is everything. 
These are things I use to plan and journal with, mainly to make my planner pages pretty. 

The Calligraphy pens I bought from Crossword. These are the 2.0 and 3.0 kinds. We also have a 1.0 which my sister uses. 
The list pad came with a Happie Scrappie Kit a while back. 
These beautiful Page Flags are from Target, the dollar spot, which a very kind person on Instagram sent my sister. 
Stationery people are the best people. 

The Zebra Mildliners are great for highlight text and come with two kinds of nibs, a marker tip and a writing tip. Very useful. 
You can get it HERE. 

 I also love these rose gold paper clips are from Tools To Live By and are so incredibly useful in holding down paper while you write and journal. 

The slim Washi Tapes from MT are some of my personal favourites. 
I use them in my Bujo and Journal extensively. 

These Starbucks stickers are new-ish in my life and I love them! 
My sister is a big time Starbucks fan and couldn't resist these stickers. 
We got these from Aliexpress. 

This is all I carry in my smaller pencil bag. 
Part- II coming soon with all of my pens! 

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Book Review: Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan

Book: Beneath a Scarlet Sky

Author: Mark Sullivan 

Pages: 526 

Read on: Kindle via Kindle Unlimited 

Read in: 6-7 hours over three days 

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing 

Plot Summary: Pino Lella wants nothing to do with the war or the Nazis. He’s a normal Italian teenager—obsessed with music, food, and girls—but his days of innocence are numbered. When his family home in Milan is destroyed by Allied bombs, Pino joins an underground railroad helping Jews escape over the Alps, and falls for Anna, a beautiful widow six years his senior.

In an attempt to protect him, Pino’s parents force him to enlist as a German soldier—a move they think will keep him out of combat. But after Pino is injured, he is recruited at the tender age of eighteen to become the personal driver for Adolf Hitler’s left hand in Italy, General Hans Leyers, one of the Third Reich’s most mysterious and powerful commanders.

Now, with the opportunity to spy for the Allies inside the German High Command, Pino endures the horrors of the war and the Nazi occupation by fighting in secret, his courage bolstered by his love for Anna and for the life he dreams they will one day share.

General Thoughts: I love reading stories and real life-inspired stories about the World Wars. The word 'love' here means that I am fascinated by the wars and the human experience therein. I think it is so important for everyone to read about all sides and all experiences related to these horrendous events as we need to make sure these atrocities are never repeated again. 

I was quite excited to start reading this book because this is a true story. Yup, it is a true story that was thoroughly research by the author and then penned down. Pino Lella is a very courageous man, who did the right thing at a time when doing the right thing could get you mercilessly killed. 

Things  I Liked: 
1. I liked that the story was based in Italy at the almost fag end of World War II. The Allies were almost about to win and yet the Nazis were nowhere close to being done. Italy, under Mussolini, was occupied by the Germans and the German War Machine was taking everything that they could from Italy- produce, wine, machinery, cars and able-bodied men. For Pino, a seventeen year-old in Milan, life changed almost overnight once the implications of the German occupation meant that Milan would get bombed by the Allied aircraft.

2. It was interesting to read about how the Catholic Church in Italy set up an underground railroad type of a system to smuggle Italian Jews out to Switzerland. I believe that out of 49,000 Italian Jews almost 41,000 survived! That is such a great number! In this book, we get to see how Father Re, who had a little chapel in the Alps helped several Jewish families to get across the Italian border into Switzerland. 

3. Pino is such a brave young man. He immediately starts using his knowledge of the mountains around Father Re's camp to start taking Jewish families across the border. He is also equally quick to agree to start spying on the Nazis once his parents force him to join the German Army's Administrative Wing, so that he wouldn't have to go fight at the front. He risks his life again and again to get vital information for his Uncle Albert, who was a part of the Resistance and who conveyed this information back to the Allies. Pino keeps on going even after personal tragedy and doesn't stop until the war is over! He is such a great character! 

4. There are so many little stories of courage, kindness and sacrifice in these dark times, which is always a reminder that people are and can be good! Similarly, the book also has some stomach-turning descriptions of the kind of horrors that people associate (and rightly so) with the war! The Nazi propaganda and their attempted cover-up of the horrors of the Holocaust are also well explained in this book. The Nazis were very secretive and tight-lipped about their atrocities on the Jews, so much so that even their allies didn't know much about it. So, I liked that we got to see such a close-to-the-ground perspective of the war! 

5. Getting to read about the gradual collapse of the German War Machine and the things that the retreating German soldiers were doing was also interesting. The loss of spirits, the desperation and also, the vigilante justice meted out by the Partisans in Italy was interesting to read about. 

Things I Didn't Like:
1. Just the one thing- this was an annoyingly over-detailed narrative! This book needed some sharp editing! We have the same hike across the Alps described at least seven times in nauseating detail. It is almost like you were there. Seven times over! There are way too many details, way too much description, way too much repetition. I wish the author had used all that energy and converted it into weaving a tighter and more compelling story! 

Rating: 3.5/5 
This is a very detailed and enjoyable historical fiction read. Do read it if you feel like immersing yourself in a good war story! 

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Book Haul: Anne of Green Gables by L.M Montgomery.

“I don't know, I don't want to talk as much. It's nicer to think dear, pretty thoughts and keep them in one's heart, like treasures. I don't like to have them laughed at or wondered over.” 

These end pages are gorgeous as always in the case of these Puffin in Bloom editions. 

“I went looking for my dreams outside of myself and discovered, it's not what the world holds for you, it's what you bring to it.” 

“It's been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.” 

Another beauty from my Puffin in Bloom boxset. 

Book: Anne of Green Gables 

Author: L.M. Montgomery 

Pages: 300

First Published in 1908 

Plot Summary: Everyone's favourite redhead, the spunky Anne Shirley, begins her adventures at Green Gables, a farm outside Avonlea, Prince Edward Island. When the freckled girl realises that the elderly Cuthberts wanted to adopt a boy instead, she begins to try to win them and, consequently, the reader, over.

I can't wait to get to this book. The people who've read love it immensely. 
Also, the new Netflix adaptation looks good too. Need to start watching it soon. I've heard a mix bunch of things about it but it does look good. 


Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Book Review: The Woman on the Orient Express by Lindsay Jane Ashford

Book: The Woman on the Orient Express

Author: Lindsay Jane Ashford 

Pages: 332

Read on: Kindle {via Kindle Unlimited}

Read in: 3-4 hours 

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing 

Plot Summary: Hoping to make a clean break from a fractured marriage, Agatha Christie boards the Orient Express in disguise. But unlike her famous detective Hercule Poirot, she can’t neatly unravel the mysteries she encounters on this fateful journey.

Agatha isn’t the only passenger on board with secrets. Her cabinmate Katharine Keeling’s first marriage ended in tragedy, propelling her toward a second relationship mired in deceit. 

Nancy Nelson—newly married but carrying another man’s child—is desperate to conceal the pregnancy and teeters on the brink of utter despair. 

Each woman hides her past from the others, ferociously guarding her secrets. But as the train bound for the Middle East speeds down the track, the parallel courses of their lives shift to intersect—with lasting repercussions.

Things I Liked: 
  • If you know me at all, you will know that I have a deep and abiding love for all things Agatha Christie, so when I saw this book on Amazon Unlimited, and saw that the premise was inspired by Agatha Christie's travels to the Middle East around the time her first husband was getting re-married with some intrigue thrown in, I was hooked! 
  • This is such a nicely written book. I love books that are evocative but not overly descriptive and this one straddles the fine line just perfectly! I loved how the author brought the Orient Express to life and also showed us the inspiration of three of Agatha Christie's books, which were gleaned from events during her journey. 
  • The characters in the book are also interesting and well etched out. First, there is Agatha Christie herself, who we see as a vulnerable, self-doubting, slightly heartbroken young woman towards the beginning of the journey and who during the course of the journey makes friends, decides on a future course of action for her and even finds love! I loved seeing this side of Agatha Christie... I had always imagined her as this woman with a mischievous twinkle in her eye and who would be intrepid and full of chutzpah and in this book, Agatha Christie is almost sort-of like what I had imagined her to be. 
  • Then we have Katherine, who is full of chutzpah and, is clearly, hiding a big secret. She is an archaeologist and I found that so interesting because a woman archaeologist in the 1930s was a rare thing and poor Katherine was forced to marry a male colleague just because some conservative sponsor could keep funding their dig. She is a character who is so strong and brave and just utterly wonderful!
  • Nancy is very likeable and you feel a lot of empathy for her situation! She is the glue that, finally, brings the three travel-mates together and binds them, in some ways, for life! In fact, it is Nancy, whose situation makes Agatha snap out of her morose-ness and self-pity and figure out a way to life her life as a single mother. 
  • The book has some beautiful descriptions and interesting history about Syria and Yemen. It also mentions the now-war ravaged town of Aleppo, which was a beautiful and flourishing sea-side holiday destination. It made me sad to read about what war and savagery can do to everyday lives of common people!
  • The cataclysmic events, which bind the three friends in a life-long secret, also unfold in a gripping manner. The resolution of these events is surprisingly easy, given the person involved in them (not giving away any spoilers here), but it was not something I am complaining about! 
Rating: 5/5
A fantastic book that is sort of rooted in true events and if you love Agatha Christie's works as much as I do, then what are you waiting for?! Go!! Get this book! 

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Stationery Sunday: Floral Ephemera- From Katrin With Love

If you follow me on Instagram, then it will be no secret to you that I love all things floral! Secretly, or not-so-secretly, I am a floral-print loving old British lady!

I thought I will share these beautiful vintage floral ephemera that I ordered from From Katrin With Love a month or so ago. She has the most amazing collection of vintage ephemera and her floral and nature-themed paper kits are to die for! Seriously!

Plus, she offers free shipping.

Here's what we ordered:

We ordered four sets of floral paper kits. Each of them have paper cuttings from various sources, stamps, larger paper pieces, cards and such little bits and bobs. 

Here's a closer look at Sets 1 and 2.. Look at those pretty flowers and stamps..

Here's another look at them! Love, love! 

Another closer look. I, especially, love the floral stamps! 

Sigh! Aren't they beautiful! 

If you are into flowers or just use ephemera and vintage papers in your journaling spreads, then this is a great little store for you to check out! 

Have a great week ahead, guys! 

See you soon! 

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Stationery Haul/// Itsy-Bitsy & Versa Color Stamp Inks.

Hope this Saturday is treating you well. 
My Saturday is off to a good start. 
A night of sleeping well and a morning full of rain and drizzle. 

Today I want to share a little haul of stamp inks I recently acquired. 
I already have quite a few stamp inks in various forms, like distress inks and regular ones like pigments. 
I did a haul of Tim Holtz Distress Ink on the blog in December. 
My sister and I love stamping. It is such an easy way to add some art and colour to your planner/journal pages. 
I will soon do a stamps and inks post on the blog. 

For now on to the new inks we have. 

Even though we have a lot of coloured inks, we were running low on a basic black ink. The one we had was quite old and was nearly dry. 
We got 2 of these Pigment Stamp Pads and they are so incredibly pigmented.
The olive is such a pretty colour and the black is a wonderful deep and dark black. 

We mainly got the brown ink since we have a lot of floral stamps and some coffee themed ones too. 
This too is very pigmented and a great shade of brown. 
This one is from Versa Color, a brand which we have a ton of inks from and we love. 
The quality of these stamp inks is top notch. 

These are some new colours we got. 
So vivid and so beautiful. 

These are all of them. 
We got all of these online from Itsy Bitsy. 

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Book Review: The Liberation of Sita by Volga.

Book: The Liberation of Sita

Author: Volga

Translator: T. Vijaykumar

Pages: 132 (the stories are only 72 pages long)

Publisher: Harper Collins India

Read On: Paperback

How Long it Took Me To Read: 1 day

Plot Summary: Valmiki's Ramayana is the story of Rama's exile and return to Ayodhya, a triumphant king who will always do right by his subjects. 

In Volga s retelling, it is Sita who, after being abandoned by Purushottam Rama, embarks on an arduous journey to self-realization. Along the way, she meets extraordinary women who have broken free from all that held them back: husbands, sons, and their notions of desire, beauty and chastity. The minor women characters of the epic as we know it Surpanakha, Renuka, Urmila and Ahalya steer Sita towards an unexpected resolution. Meanwhile, Rama too must reconsider and weigh out his roles as the king of Ayodhya and as a man deeply in love with his wife. 

A powerful subversion of India s most popular tale of morality, choice and sacrifice, The Liberation of Sita opens up new spaces within the old discourse, enabling women to review their lives and experiences afresh. This is Volga at her feminist best.

General Thoughts: This book had been on my radar for a while. I had heard nothing but great things and had been meaning to give it a read for ages before I picked it up.

This was such a slim little book. A quick read for most part but full of deep philosophical musings. I read it in pretty much sitting on a rainy Sunday afternoon!

Things I Liked: 

1. I really enjoyed the writing style and the subtle but strong story telling voice. I loved Volga's view and her interpretation of the epic and especially of it's many women characters.

2. I have to be honest, the Ramayana is not my favourite epic. Not by a long shot. The Mahabharata has my heart and my mind. I find that as both an epic and a timeless tale, The Mahabharata is a more evolved and more relatable and a more robust story. I keep going back to it time and again and have read several re-tellings and re-imaginaing of it. I LOVE it. It is in some ways my favourite book.

The Ramayana never had a similar impact on me.
In some ways from a young age itself, the Ramayana rubbed me the wrong way.
While Krishna and his leelas and his charm and wit had me enthralled, Rama seemed at all times more human and less God. And a flawed human at that! He always seemed to me a little too weak and a little unjust, especially in his dealings with his wife.
So I haven't really read that much about the Ramayana. Because it was of very little interest to me.

This book however, I've enjoyed immensely, partly because it echoed similar sentiments I've harboured for year. The ill-treatment of Sita and her fate in the epic. This book not only focusses on Sita but also brings to forte several other women in the epic who met a not-so-happy ending.

3. The book charts Sita's liberation. Her change from a loved but naive princess to a woman who sees the world and those around her in their true light. Her journey and her enlightenment are shown so well and so gradually and realistically in this book.

4. While I did know of most of the other women in the book, I hadn't given them more than a passing thought, well apart for Surpanakha. It was really nice to delve into their hearts and minds and see Sita interact with them and learn valuable life lessons from them.

5. Surpanakha- the princess of Lanka. The woman who in some ways (some might say) started the great war between Ram and Ravan. But a woman who I've always found intriguing. When I was first told the story of the Ramayana and later when I saw the epic on TV, I always wondered why Surpanakha irked Ram and Lakshman so much? Why did they hate her so much? All she did was profess her love to Lakshman, was that so wrong? So abhorrent to the brothers that they had to cruelly disfigure her? Insult her and humiliate her and maim her for life. I always felt like that was a gross over-reaction.

I loved seeing Surpanakha in this book, in the very first chapter itself and it made me happy to see how she lived the rest of her days out.

6. The other women in the book, Ahalya and Renuka were people I only vaguely knew about. I knew a little more about Ahalya and her fate made me so mad. Why should a woman be punished for a wrong doing that wasn't even her fault? I liked that we got more into her story and saw things from her perspective.

Similarly, Renuka was an enlightening character to get to know, it also interesting that the man who had wronged her was her own son. A man she had given birth to and raised!

7. The chapter on Urmila was one of my favourites too. She is too a woman terribly wronged in the Ramayana. Left alone by her husband, so soon after their grand wedding, so he could follow his brother into Vanvaas always seemed quite cruel to me.

8. The book ends with Ram. A chapter dedicated to him and how he is someone who can never be liberated from his world. He is tied to the throne, to politics and his kingdom and how he can never do what he wants to do, his life is tied to his dharma as a king and a ruler of his people. His personal happiness and joys take a back seat and he is thus deeply trapped. And perhaps the biggest tragedy in the entire epic.

9. Apart from the women in the book and seeing their stories with a modern lens, the writer also looks at Aryans and their need to spread their way of life, by any means possible. And that the war in Lanka was just an excuse to capture a prosperous state and take it over.

10. These short stories though pretty concise and short were incredibly though provoking and philosophical and enlightening.

Rating: 4/5

I highly recommend this book and I am so glad to be reading more translated fiction!

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Whimsy Wear: Hot Air Balloons!


This top was love at first sight! 
I mean the print is too cute to pass up. 
Plus, it's so comfy and cozy! 
I also really like the rest of the elements of this outfit of mine. 

What I Wore///

Top: H & M 
Shoes & Socks: Forever 21 
Bag: Chumbak 
Necklace: Accessorize 
Scarf: Zara 

I wore this outfit on a long day and I was comfortable morning till night! 
When it comes to dressing I am all about the comfort and wearability! 
Also cute little quirky details don't hurt either! 


Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Book Review: The Boy Who Swallowed a Nail and Other Stories by Lalita Iyer.

Book: The Boy Who Swallowed a Nail and Other Stories

Author: Lalita Iyer

Illustrator: Shamika Kocharekar

Publisher: Scholastic India

Pages: 72

Read On: Paperback

How Long it Took Me To Read: A little over an hour

Plot Summary: Appa is busy trying to buy a buffalo, Amma is wondering where to hang a clothesline in Dhanulti, while Cheenu has happily swallowed a nail! 

Lalita Iyer’s family is always up to something. Read about their quirks and adventures in this charming collection of stories.

General Thoughts: I won't lie the darling little illustration on the cover drew me in. Plus the premise of the book and it's general vibe made me think of my childhood and I had to give it a read.

Things I Liked:

1. The Boy Who Swallowed a Nail is such a charming little collection of stories! The book is classified and marketed as a children's book, but it contains life lessons and little jaunts down memory lane for those of us who were kids in the 90s and 80s (and perhaps even 70s) in India. So, this is a book that even the parents of 8-12 year olds can read, laugh out loud at and re-live their glory days of childhood!

2. The stories are simple and very heartwarming. There are stories about Appa trying to buy a buffalo, the author's reflections on being a "teacher's daughter" in her school, a jaunt down memory lane to a fun-filled, crazy summer vacation to Dhanaulti, memories of an old and kind music teacher and, of course, the author's brother swallowing a nail! I pretty much loved all the stories but I, especially, loved reading about the author's Appa- an idealistic, trusting and kind man, who reminded me a lot of my own Baba (father).

3. The book takes you back to being a kid in pre-liberalisation India- lots of middle-class hat-tips and even references to kids coming back home alone from school using public transport. My sister did that during her school exams in the late 80s and it was perfectly safe to do so. Now, sadly, it is totally unimaginable to have a 10-11 year old come back home alone in a BEST bus or an auto.

4. The book is full of characters that all of us would have come across- the eccentric laundry guy, doodhwala, the selfish 'users'- ones who take advantage of someone's kindness and never return the favour, kind strangers and just grumpy government/ guest house staff. The author's family is really likeable and their anecdotes are really amusing.

Things I Didn't Like: Nothing really. I, honestly, don't think this is a pure children's book. The stories are narrated in a very adult voice- like any of us would narrate family vacation misadventures or some hilarious childhood anecdote to a group of friends over coffee (or something stronger)!

This is a book that can be enjoyed by "grown ups" and kids alike!

Rating: 4/5 
A quick and fun read. A great fix for your childhood/ 70s-90s nostalgia cravings! 

Monday, 10 July 2017

Monday Moods: My Current Backpack. {Haul + Rave}

Hello Monday! 

To add some colour and love to this Monday, I am going to share my current bag with you. 
I am clearly having a little bit of a backpack moment right. 
Let's face it, they are super convenient. 
They usually fit a ton of stuff. 
They are kinder to our shoulders. 
And having your handsfree is such a boon! 

For a while now I've been looking for a slightly desi backpack. Something that will go with my Indo-western and my completely Indian outfits. 
This one I think swings both ways. 
It is fairly boho and looks good with a tee-shirt and jeans, as well as when I ditch the tee for a kurti. 
I love the colours and the stripes. Being predominantly red, it goes with most of/all of closet. 
I got mine from The House of Tara via the ever trusty Limeroad
I have bought several things from this brand before and I love their design sensibility and aesthetic. Also their stuff is very well made. This backpack for instance, is super soft and almost squishy. I love it! 

Let's jump into some pictures now..

The main feature of this backpack is this decorative tassel trio. 
It definitely adds to the boho-ness of the bag! 

The inside of the bag and it's flap is lined with this really cute anchor print cloth.
The colours are in keeping with the rest of the bag and the anchors are a nice little detail. 

The inside of the bag. 

The back of the backpack has a nifty little zip compartment to keep your phone and wallet safe from pickpockets and such. 
It's nice to have this as it makes your bag a little bit safer. 
I once had my wallet flicked from my backpack at my train station during college. Not fun!
This secret-ish compartment of sorts is a clever detail. 
The straps are super comfy too! 

The bag in all of it's glory. 
It is such a decent size, it fits everything I need, including an umbrella! 
I might in the future jazz it up with some pins and badges but for now, she is perfect as she is! 

I hope you guys have a good Monday and a splendid rest of the week! 

See you soon with a bookish post or two.

Till then, Happy Reading Folks! 

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Stationery Sunday/// The Planner Society Traveler's Notebook Haul

As you might know, we've been getting the monthly Planner Society Stationery Kit for a few months now..around 8 months and we are a big fans. Every month we get a box of goodies from them with everything from a pen, papers, stamps, stickers and pencil cases. It is amazing! 
( Sadly, our kit didn't make it to us in May, which bummed us out rather!)
But apart from this small mishap, we've loved our TPS kits to death! 

So, when we saw they had some fauxdoris and some other planners in their shop, we were very intrigued and decided to get one and see what we thought about it. 
We feel in love with this print, in which we have a washi tape and some papers from a previous month's kit. I love, love, love the delicate and gorgeous print! 

Let's see the beauty now shall we..

The dori came in this dust bag, which the somewhat trademark image of this chic girl. 
We have a similar motif in stamp and in stickers. 

Look at her! 
Isn't she a beauty?! 
So pretty! 
As far as sizes go, she is a very generous (large/wide) Field Notes/ Pocket sized dori, which will easily fit upto 6 field notes sized notebooks. Plus other decorative and utilitarian things like dashboards, wallet inserts etc. 

The inside looks a like this. 
Rose gold hearts all over. 
It also has pockets on the front and back flap. 
They also sent some pink extra elastic which is always super handy! 

They also sent 3 notebooks with the dori, which is always nice and I love the notebooks that came with the dori

So much beauty! 

This is the first insert. The cover is stunning and PINK! 
The pages look a little like this. 
An interesting layout. I am quite excited to try this at some point. 

The next insert has this gorgeous floral print. 
And the last insert matches the dori perfectly. 
In fact, all of the inserts are perfect this dori

All of the prints sorta go together. 

The second insert has grid paper and says 'Hello Beautiful' on the top of each page. 

The last insert is a blank with the girl and be fabulous written on each page. I haven't yet tried out the pages yet, so I can't tell if they can take all kinds of ink. Once I do, I will let you know. 

Hope you enjoyed this pretty and floral TN haul! 

Have a great week ahead and I'll be back soon with more next week!