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Paper and Rice

My Pirongs Uniques Lifestyle Planner- a Review

Hello everyone!

So I was recently on Mygreencow’s Youtube channel (my not-so-guilty pleasure) and I found a video reviewing a Lifestyle Planner by a fairly new company called Pirongs. Pirongs is a firm that offers primarily teaching planners and diaries, but they have a new line of Lifestyle Planners called Uniques- a range of fully customizeable planners tailored to fit your specific taste and needs. When I heard the idea of being able to choose a cover and layout to my own liking, I immediately ordered one- after I had spent four hours customizing mine, of course! Not that  the website was hard to use, its actually fairly easy to create your layout, I just wanted  make sure I had loked at every single cover design, every single insert, every single option before deciding on mine. Well, it finally arrived, and I can’t wait to share it with you guys!

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When you customize your Pirongs Planner, you begin with the cover. There’s a vast variety of designs you can choose from, or you could even opt to design a cover including a collage of all your favourite family photos or memories! I thought that idea was really cute, but I intend on taking this planner with me to meetings and professional settings as well- and don’t particularly want everyone to be able to see photos of my friends and I in Thailand. However, I did add my name, as I thought it was quite a cute touch, to the planner. You can also choose the colour of the spirals, bookmark and a cute little elastic that’ll keep your planner shut when you take it out and about with you. As far as I know, there’s not that many spiral and bookmark colour to choose from, but I like having the option between black, white and silver, as it can definitely change “the feel” of your planner and the look you’re going for.

You can also choose one of three layouts as to how your planner’s layout is set up: two horizontal and one vertical layout. I chose the vertical layout, where your day goes down vertically and is split into morning, afternoon and evening.

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The daily layout also comes with cute little extras like “to-do” lists, check-lists and a “weekly goal”. I also like that there’s a very miniature calendar at the top left-hand corner, so I can just highlight important dates to remind myself to flip to the according page and check what event is on that day.

Each month, you get to pages that create a “month at a glace” layout to pencil in the most important events of the month.

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Each month has a different color scheme, and I absolutely fell in love with the adorable little strawberry for August:

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You can see the various themes for each month in a full-year calendar at the very front of the planner as well:

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Another feature about the Pirongs planner is that, instead of a few pages entitled “notes” that you rarely end up using because you can’t figure out which information is important enough to use up space in your planner, you can choose from various pages at the back of your planner. The back of my planner includes lists of books to read, movies to watch, expenses, contacts, financial wish lists, new years resolutions, christmas card recipient lists and contacts, but there are many more options you can choose from. My absolute favourite part was this little page you can add for for your goals and aspirations. Choosing all of these pages also don’t cost extra at all, but adding an elastic or a pen holder can add a teensy bit to the final price.

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Finally, you can also choose to add pockets to your planner, and to my great surprise, I found a few cute stickers in my planner! They also added some tabs, and clear instructions and a template the instructs you on where exactly to put the tabs, which I found immensely helpful.

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And… ta-da! The final product was my gorgeous planner:

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The final price including an elastic and pen holder was 24GBP, plus shipping made 36GPB. I found the shipping to be extremely pricey, as I was shipping within the EU, but perhaps if you ship within the UK it’s less expense.

And that’s my new planner! I’m very excited to start using this, and will soon write a blog post about how I’m setting up and using this planner.

 

 

 

 

 

Why I use an address book- and you should too

My whole life changed (well, maybe not my whole life, but that part of my mind that needs to be soothed with the feeling of being organized) when my mother handed me an address book she didn’t intend on using. There it sat on the table, shiny, sleek and purple, my absolute favourite colour, and I thought “I won’t ever use this- all my contacts or on my phone”

Several months later, I don’t think I could ever live without it. There are several reasons why people should stick to old address book, aside from the obvious fact that phones get lost, left in cabs or fall into puddles, and computers get viruses, email accounts change, facebook accounts get deleted. The shock hit me when my boyfriend stopped replying to my messages because he had lost his phone and I realized- I didn’t even have his email address. His whatsapp, wechat and phone number, sure. But email address? Never. Let alone the actual physical address to his apartment.

Since we are constantly adding people on various social media we often can’t actually keep track of their contact information, and often the loss of a single phone could mean losing touch with someone forever. Sure, you can back everything up using the iCloud or sync it with your laptop, but I for one always forget to turn on these functions or don’t know how to use them.

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I’ll admit I’m a vain person- the only reason the paperblanks address book convinced me to use it at first is because it looks adorable. But then I actually began to see the true value of an address book, and I don’t think I could ever live without one. It begins with me often having to pull out a number whilst on the phone with someone, or someone asking me for a number and my phone battery having died. I also just like having the peace of mind that all my information is “backed up” as it were. You back up all your photos, why wouldn’t you back up your contact information too? I like knowing I have everyone’s number, and if I see I only have one or two means of contacting them, I can make an effort to find out their email address or posting address so I have several means of reaching out to them when I want to, should they perhaps delete an account or change their number.

I also like the fact that Paperblanks uses acid-free, sustainable forest paper and also recycle in the process of creating their products. They’re environmentally friendly and take care of their craftsmen. I absolutely love the philosophy behind Paperblanks that “art matters” because I absolutely agree- art does matter. And they reflect this in the artwork in all of their products. I suppose I have a weakness for any stationery that reminds me of my home in India through their designs, be it mandala’s, paiseley or just rich and vibrant colours.

I’m absolutely excited to continue using this address book, and I strongly encourage everyone to use an address book- just in case!

Six Things that are killing your Creativity

Are you currently experiencing a writer’s block? Do you have a column that needs to be sent to an editor by midnight, but you’re fresh out of ideas? Or do you generally feel like everyone around you is making videos, movies, acting, singing, dancing, composing, drawing, painting, and meanwhile you feel as if your mind is lacking creativity? Here are six things that are killing your creativity:

1) waking up late

Waking up at 11am and then staying in your pajamas all day leaves you feeling sluggish and dull, and your brain starts to feel that way too. Waking up early, and more importantly, starting the day right, such as exercising or showering and getting dressed may not necessarily lead to a more productive day, but it may lead to a more inspired one.

2) Your Netflix subscription

Alright, maybe it’s not the Netflix subscription, but spending too much time on your laptop might be killing your creativity. The internet can be a wonderful place full of inspiring ideas, but most of the time we use it to watch videos of cats taking baths. Need I say more?

3) Observing rather than doing

And here is what I meant by saying you’re “spending too much time using technology”. Sure, graphic designers and website curators use their computers, but they are creating rather than mindlessly watching videos on Youtube. I once asked my friend what movie she’d like to watch when I came over to her place that evening, to which she replied “Watch a movie? Why watch a movie when you can make one?”.

This is an interesting point. We spend so much time soaking up all the entertainment, we forget what it’s like to create it. Try being the person who creates the entertainment you normally consume, it might help you appreciate it more. If you think about it, of all the time you spend on your computer in a day, how much of it is actual productive work? And how much time and energy are you wasting on watching mind-numbing material with no substance. Of the information you attain throughout the day through reading, be it on your laptop, in the newspaper or elsewhere, how much of it are you actually absorbing? The process of writing, drawing or otherwise creating in any way makes you truly appreciate the ideas that are being circulated as a massive flow of information, most of which you pick up on but do not truly process. For example,  you may currently be reading a very cheesy romantic novel by Nicholas Sparks, as a way of passing time as you’re waiting for your dentist appointment. But are you truly processing what the author is trying to say about love? Is he trying to say anything at all? Perhaps through writing about it, you may discover your own take on the subject and learn more than you would than just reading it. This isn’t to say that reading isn’t great, it most certainly is. But just how we have “active readers” in regards to studying efficiently, being an “active reader” when it comes to leisurely reading can sometimes benefit us in more ways than one.

 

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4) Your perfectionism

Nothing kills creativity quite like perfectionism does. Perfectionism is your biggest enemy when it comes to completing a creative project- because it leads you to believe you’ve failed, and makes you give up before the project is complete. That is the true failure. To produce a piece of art that isn’t perfect isn’t failure, giving up is.

5) comparing yourself to others

NEVER compare yourself to others, or you will constantly find yourself feeling inadequate. Your creative journey is your journey, and yours alone. Besides, by following others you would never be unique, and what would be the fun in that? You want to maintain and nurture the part in your artwork that may be different than others, it’s what makes it unique and special. George R.R Martin has been criticized on numerous occasions for his outrageously graphic details and the constant deaths of what seem to be the “main characters” of the story. That isn’t the conventional way of writing, but who cares? Game of Thrones became a huge success! Own your unique style, no matter what.

6) Taking criticism personally

Any experienced actor will tell you this: “You need to become thick-skinned, become used to not getting the part, and never taking criticism personally after auditions”. Productive criticism is there to help you improve and make you better, learn to welcome it. This is, of course, easier said than done, and I myself have on several occasions found myself bitterly snapping back at someone for criticizing me. I even have a friend who once threw her coffee at a french fashion designer for suggesting that her colour was “all wrong honey”. But that’s what criticism is. Sometimes, it may even seem to come out of nowhere, or seem unfair, but you gotta learn to roll with it and not take it too seriously.

These are the six things that are killing your creativity, but you know what the most important tip of all is:

7) Be yourself

It sounds corny, but being yourself is the best you can offer the world. And who knows? You may create something beautiful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chanelling your Inner Creative

Sometimes, our mind is brimming with ideas and we simply don’t know how to express them. This is when the “creative” people seem to have an advantage over us in life. Why can’t I paint? I wish I could dance like her, her body looks fantastic. Why can’t I move in such a mesmerizing way like her? How come she can compose music whereas my musical talent doesn’t extend beyond singing in the shower?  Creative people scare us, because they have tapped into some sort of inner source that we can’t seem to find. Whilst we envy their talent and skill, what we truly desire in the ability to create something new, to come up with new ideas and procure them out of seemingly nowhere.

The truth is, every human being is creative, it is something innate in us that we posses as children. As we grow up, we do not lose it, but merely lose touch with our “Inner Creative”.
However, there are a few things you do that help you get back in touch with your creative roots:

Stop trying to be Perfect

Now you may have heard this a million times, but I honestly cannot stress the importance of this enough. We’ve all heard the famous quote by Homer Simpson: ” To try is to fail”. Wrong. As much as we all appreciate Matt Groening’s work, Homer Simpson has got it all wrong. To try is not to fail. To try to be perfect is to fail. Never compare your beginning to someone else’s middle, and your middle to someone else’s end. The key to creativity is the process. We always envision writers sitting in a coffee shop, typing away on their laptop, pulling their hair out over the column they’re writing. We picture artists cooped up in their studio for days, mastering their artwork on canvas. Sometimes, it is more productive to let go and just start– and eventually also finish something, even if it’s not perfect. We are our worst critics, and perhaps judging our own artwork is not the best way to go about it.

Read a Book

That’s right, I said it. I’m looking at you. How long has it been since you’ve read a book, from start to finish? And no, the book you allegedly read for your book club (and by that you mean you skimmed the first and last two chapters) does not count. Inspiration may not automatically come to you by searching for it, but sitting around and waiting for it to pop into your head isn’t helping either. Stimulate your mind by reading, writing, experimenting, listening to music, attending a play or opera, visiting an art gallery, or taking a fun tap class you never thought you’d take. This brings me to my next point:

Don’t Isolate Yourself

Like I mentioned earlier, we always envision artists and creatives as these geniuses who coop themselves up at home. If it’s inspiration you’re seeking, your best bet is to take a walk outside or have a coffee with friends. Talking to them about various different subjects may lead to an idea suddenly popping into your head!

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Step Outside of your Comfort Zone

No artists was born by staying in his comfort zone. It’s about putting yourself out there and trying new things. Don’t worry about being perfect on the first try, no one is! Instead, focus on the learning process, and what trying new things may teach you. It’s not about the accomplishment, but about the learning outcome of what you’re trying. Being creative is about manipulating something you already have and observing the outcome. If you are a writer, write in a style that terrifies you most. If you’re a dancer, dance in the style that makes you cringe. If you’re a musician, try a new instrument. You like classical music? Go to a Jazz bar. That’s how it works, the things you are scared of have so much to teach you, and you are limiting yourself if you don’t broaden your horizon just because you’re afraid. And lastly:

Realize that Creativity lies in Every Day Life

You don’t need to be a musical genius, a painter or a writer to be creative. Creativity can be anything! The mom who just whipped up a three meal course out of the five ingredients she had left in her fridge, the fashion student who just used her bedspread and curtains to make a dress, the teacher who found new ways to teach her children in the form of a fun game. Don’t be fooled into thinking that creativity only lies in one of “the arts”, creativity can be found everywhere!

 

 

 

Journaling: chicken soup for every soul?

I started my first journal when I was five years old, as soon as I could write. It was more of a “Dear Diary” back then, but even as a child I found it satisfying to note down what I did each day so I could look back at it weeks later and reflect and laugh at the events of the past. At the time those included growing my own water cress and what a mean boy in the first grade said about my stuffed swan, but nonetheless I found it helped me talk about my feelings in a way I couldn’t speak to my parents or friends.

As I grew older, my obsession with journaling grew. At various points during my childhood and adolescence, my journal was my only friend, the only companion I could speak to. I read The Princess Diaries and fully empathized with Mia Thermopolis, understanding her quest to assertiveness and her struggles to communicate with other people. Being an adult now, I have more than enough friends and family members I can speak openly to, but my trusted companion has never left me. It still resides in my purse, safely nestled against my scarf and chewing gum, waiting for me to open it and pour my heart into it, spilling my thoughts like ink onto paper.

I stopped journaling as I grew older, maybe because I had friends I could confide in, or I found myself to preoccupied, busy, and tired by the time I went to bed. In 2014 I was struggling with depression, and during the rough times where most people reach for their icecream, favourite TV show or Chicken Soup for the _____ Soul, I finally went back to my journal and tried writing again for the first time in years. It has helped me through the hardest of times, but has also proven to be a keepsake of the happy times that I will cherish forever. Since then I carry my journal everywhere with me, as a method of reflection and personal development. However, the style in which I journal has since changed. What used to be pages and pages of tightly cramped handwriting has now blossomed into drawings, sketches, doodles, thought bubbles, letters, lists and more. This is why I would recommend journaling to anyone, it isn’t just a “Dear Diary” letter-style entry, it doesn’t have to be! Your journal can be anything and everything you want it to be.

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