Carden Illustration Murder Castle Puzzle

I listen to a podcast called My Favorite Murder. When I was working from home back in March I started re-listening to it from the very beginning. In one of their early episodes they mentioned an illustrator named Holly Carden who created a H.H. Holmes Murder Castle puzzle. I immediately looked it up and could not help but buy it 😁

If you are not familiar with H.H. Holmes, he was a serial killer notorious for preying on visitors to the 1893 World’s Fair hosted in Chicago. He constructed this building meant to be a hotel, but it was basically a giant murder dungeon. He hired a ton of contractors to work on different parts of the house for short stints so that no one ever knew the whole scope of what was being built. There was a character based on him in American Horror Story’s hotel season, and I highly recommend the book The Devil in the White City (soon to be a show starring Leonardo DiCaprio!).

One thing I like about puzzles is how well you get to know the image.. you know, since you stare at it for hours trying to figure out where all the tiny pieces go! Carden’s illustration style here is simple and reminiscent of comic book animation. I like her use of colors inside the mansion contrasted with a colder monochrome palette for the surrounding area – a little ironic considering all the horrors that went on inside while the world was celebrating outside. The imagery is disturbing but not gory. She also includes an insert that describes what is going on in different parts of the mansion. It would be really hard to do this puzzle without looking at the box cover just because there’s so much going on. The quality is also nicer than I expected, it has a heavier weight than the usual puzzles you would buy in a store.

I know the subject is morbid and won’t be for everyone, but I really enjoyed this puzzle – it was not too hard and definitely not easy. It goes for $35 from Carden’s website and I would recommend this for any murderinos out there or as a gift for the true-crime lovers in your life.

Lihit Lab Smart Fit pouch

I am not a purse or bag person. I prefer to travel light and truly hate having to dig through a huge bag to find what I’m looking for. The Lihit Lab pouch makes going to school, work, or meetings way more convenient. There are so many pockets to keep things organized!

You can see in my pictures, this is what is usually in my B5 Lihit Lab pouch: keys, wallet, phone, a couple pens/pencils, an eraser and correction tape, and as many notebooks as possible.

This pouch comes in multiple different sizes, though B5 is perfect for me. If you have larger notebooks or files, A4 may be a better size to make sure everything fits. It also comes in a small selection of different colors and patterns. Black is classic but I also like the Navy and Red, those colors are so vibrant.

It has a velcro enclosure and is nicely padded. There are loops on each side so you can add a strap and basically turn it into a cross-body bag. Lihit Labs makes a strap for their pouches, but you could use any other clip-on strap you may already have.

This pouch can be pricey, but if you think of it as an organizer and bag rather than a pouch, it’s actually a very good investment. The quality is wonderful – I have used the same one for 5+ years and nothing has torn or needed replacement – I’m definitely happy with it 😊

Wildfire update

I have been debating how personal this blog should be..while I plan to continue my weekly posts, I may sprinkle in personal ones here and there 😀

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. On Wednesday morning I opened my blinds but no light came in. As I made my way to work it just got worse and worse. I walked into the office at 9am and I could still see outside. One hour later it was pitch dark. It was so dark the street lights stayed on all day. Off on the horizon you could see a dark orange glow. What. The. Fuck.

It has been almost four weeks since the wildfires started in our area. As those fires are starting to get fully contained, we are now getting smoke from wildfires as far as Oregon. It is sad to admit, but this is our new normal – fall is fire season.

Two years ago I went up to Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton to escape smoke that blew down to us from North Bay wildfires. A few weeks ago the observatory itself was right in the middle of the SCU Lightning Complex fire zone. They stationed some firefighters up there and the observatory has thankfully survived.

A year after our visit to Lick Observatory we were in Chico and decided to drive through Paradise. It was such an eye-opening experience. On the main street the fire spared some buildings while others right next door were completely destroyed. Burnt out cars laid in parking lots where they initially caught fire. But when we drove through residential neighborhoods we saw the real impact. Road after road we saw empty lots with hardly anything left except chimneys where houses once stood. Some people set up tents or RVs on their properties as makeshift housing. Couldn’t help but feel great sadness thinking of how these streets were once filled with people, and now it is the site of the deadliest California wildfire in history. I want to say they had cleared out most of the debris at that point and were starting to rebuild the town.

I went hiking in Butano State Park the weekend before this years fires started. We noticed a lot of dead trees and redwoods with scorched trunks, it was clear there had been a fire there long ago. Two days later it was in the CZU Lightning Complex fire zone along with Big Basin State Park. Pescadero in general has been a safe haven for me during the pandemic – I could escape any heat waves, get some exercise while being outside, and keep distance from others. It has been a great loss for me these past few weeks, but for others their homes, businesses, and communities are forever changed.

Due to the tireless work of firefighters the fires here are almost fully contained. While things are getting under control in our area other parts of California, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado are in serious trouble. I would not recommend traveling to any of these states during this time. It is really important to not get in the way of firefighters and not take up rooms that could go to residents who have been evacuated. Oh yeah, there’s also a pandemic happening! If there is a silver lining in all of this, it’s that the fires will go out and we will hopefully learn from it. There are amazing people working to put them out and amazing communities working to keep people out of harms way.

If you would like to help, here are some organizations you can donate to:

Everyone please stay safe ❤️

Rifle Paper Co Monarch stationery set

When the shelter in place order first started, I had all these stationery letter sets in storage, and thought it would be nice to reach out to some of my friends. We all live in the same area but they’re always a call, text, or short drive away, so under normal circumstances it would be silly to mail letters to each other. I thought about how isolated some of them may have felt living alone and there is something very satisfying about receiving mail that’s not an ad or a bill.

It has been so much fun sending correspondence back and forth during the past few months. It is nice having something to look forward to and being able to connect with my friends like this…. but it has also given me the opportunity to start burning through my stationery stash! I highly recommend starting a pen pal during this time, and the Rifle Paper Co’s Monarch letter pad and envelopes are perfect for the occassion!

I actually bought the Rifle Paper Monarch letter pad and envelopes a few years ago but never had a reason to use them until now. So far, I have been very impressed with the overall quality.

The envelopes have a lovely design, and the paper is thick and textured. Each box comes with 25 envelopes. The sheets themselves have a simple design and have a good weight on them. The letter pad comes with 60 sheets and the pages are quite big (10.5″ x 7.25″), which is nice if you’re writing a long letter. I hate when I run out of paper and have to start using paper from another set, but I don’t have any fear of that with the Monarch letter pad.

At this moment the envelopes are discounted from Rifle Paper Co, but both the envelopes and letter pad are still in stock at some retailers. They are sold separately and usually retail for a total of $30-40. It seems this set will be discontinued soon, which will be a shame, but hopefully they will release more in the future!

Uni, Alpha Gel, mechanical pencil, 0.5, notepad, notes

Uni Alpha Gel

This is my absolute favorite line of mechanical pencils. This week I wanted to focus on the original Uni Alpha Gel.

As someone who has a writing bump (that callus that develops on your middle finger from writing a lot), I love the super squishy grip. It also has a wide body which is meant to cause less strain since you do not have to grip your hand closed as much as you would with a smaller pencil.

Another major feature is the shaking function which lets you shake the pencil to make more lead come out. There is a weight around the lead container, so when you shake the pencil the weight pushes down on the mechanism that lets a little lead out. I personally find it awkward but you can remove the weight if it is really bothersome.

I currently use Alpha Gel pencils at work and for drawing. I can write and draw for hours without my fingers hurting or my hand cramping. There are pencil leads out there that come in different hardnesses which is especially nice for drawing. Uni also makes eraser refills and replacement grips in case you wear yours down.

Alpha Gel pencils are a bit pricey (usually over $10) but the quality is very good and I have personally used the same Alpha Gel pencils for years. The only time I ever replaced one was when someone stole it from me – pencil thieves are definitely something to look out for! This is the most comfortable mechanical pencil I have ever used, and it has seriously ruined all other pencils for me 😆


Welcome

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Photo by Vladislav Klapin on Unsplash

Hi there! I thought I would get the first post out of the way and talk a little bit about my plans for this blog.

So, I have a slight addiction to stationery and office products. I currently work in an office and want to share some of the favorite items I use at work and also at home. I also love arts and crafts and shopping in general. Eventually I’ll run out of things to feature so this may or may not be a ploy to fuel future purchases 😁

Perhaps when it is safe to travel and shop in person again I could feature my favorite local stores and any other awesome stores I come across.

My ultimate goal is to open my own brick and mortar shop. I plan to study basic accounting, economics, marketing, and business principles to start off with (which will also fuel future school supply purchases). So maybe I can document some of that journey here as well.

All that being said, the focus will be on stationery, art, and gift products. I have a list long enough to fill a years worth of weekly posts so I probably won’t run out of topics for a while. Here goes nothing!