#Product Review 01- Creative Woman’s Journal by Matrikas Paper Products

This is officially my first product review in fact any “review” per say on the blog and lets just say it’s the beginning of a new section on this blog 🙂

Do you enjoy stationery shopping ? stuff like pens, notebooks, journals, sketch pens, art and craft supplies , If yes then Welcome to my world!!! Even though I use apps like Evernote, Google Keep and OneNote for maintaining my notes I still feel excited when I buy a new notebook and pen down my thoughts onto it. I love buying journals; I have a ton of them each serving a different purpose. For instance one has quotes, one has daily log, one has recipes, one for important life events etc etc.
Having said that the recent addition to my above set of journals and notebooks is this bright red beautiful looking Journal from Matrikas Paper Products as part of their Matrikas Blogger Outreach Program. I chose one of the four available variant each having a significance like To Dream, To Fly and To Glide . My choice was the Feather – To Write (#obvious) of the Creative Woman’s Journal Series. And did I tell you it’s made in India (#MadeinIndia) 

To Write

Look – this is a beauty 🙂  Bright red cover hard bound with a golden feather and “write” written next to almost like a secret message keeping the minimalism alive. So falling in love with this one was no surprise. Layout – The journal is not dated which I think is a plus for me. And the journal has a mix of different spreads which gives it a fresh element. Few blank pages, then ruled ones, then another set of surprises (yeah surprises read on) there by making the journal really flexible and interesting to use. 

There are ruled pages for notes to write down, blank pages for just scribbling down thoughts or to doodle. If that was not enough to bring in that creative element there are 8 adult coloring pages – what more can you ask for?? Surprised??!!! These days adult coloring has become a rage and is usually used for therapeutic reasons and including them in a journal was just perfect. So this book is the perfect mix for writing –doodling-coloring 🙂 a good bye don’t you think?If you are still not convinced then this would definitely. The journal has almost more than 20 stickers inside it with cool font and phrases. These can be used not just on this journal but anywhere else also. I have already started using a bunch of them. And then towards the perfect end the journal has sections Books to Read and Places to Visit and Name and Address as icing on the cake.There is also an envelope in the end to store few stickers to make your journaling activity even more comfortable. A bookmark, a pen holder and an elastic to help you close the book and keep intact. Perfect! Material – the journal is hard bound yet not heavy so easy to carry along with you. Secondly the blank pages for doodling are thick enough to not let the ink blot over to the next page. But definitely the ruled ones aren’t that thick so when I tried writing it with my sharpie the ink did blot a little. Same goes when I tried coloring the pages so maybe I should stick to coloring the pages with color pencils.

What I didn’t like – the number of pages could have been more since most journals are meant to stay for at least a year and this one doesn’t seem to survive more than 4 to 5 months if you are using it extensively as a journal. Phone book pages were not really needed in this journal since everyone uses mobile phones and this was more on the creative side the journal hence the name and address page didn’t really fit in here. 

All of the above in jt INR 450 – it’s worth every penny!! I have a bunch of other books which come at a higher price with not so many elements. If nothing has convinced you but you enjoy buying books then just for the plain beauty of this book you need to have it in your collection.  This also makes a perfect gifting idea!!!
A glimpse of the journal which I have already started using.You can purchase this and order products from their website or from Amazon

Do you use write down stuff or use apps for making notes? Do you journal..?  Let me know if you have a favorite.

P.S: This journal was sent to me free from Matrikas but the product review is completely mine.

Declutter your life the #KonMari way

Browsing through YouTube videos , which has lately become my go to entertainment when not working or doing the household chores I ended up seeing this word in a blog video on #bulletjournaling and that was #KonMari. 

Fascinated as always on seeing words I had never heard before I immediately opened up another tab and typed the words KonMari and surprisingly in 0.48 seconds about 26,50,000 results were displayed. What was even more surprising was it was about a lady Marie Kondo, a Japanese organizing consultant and author; “organizing consultant” really? Marie Kondo = Kon + Mari = KonMari (get it!!!???)

While there was too much info out there, one particular article (published two years back 😦 )caught my interest. Re blogging it here for your information. Hope you have a good read. Let me know if you had heard of this before, or have tried this?
Source : KonMari by Martha Stewart

KonMari: How to Clean Up Your Home Once and Never Need to Do It Again

Spring cleaning on the mind? What if you could clean your home once and never need to do it again? Really — never! That’s the bold claim organizing consultant Marie Kondo makes in her new book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” With that kind of promise, it’s no wonder the book has already sold 2 million copies worldwide. Copy in hand, one of our editors tackles her own clutter and shares a few takeaways from the KonMari Method.

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY: MIKE KRAUTTER

I’ve always said that I’m a connoisseur of stuff — which is really just a silly way of saying that I have way too much of it.

I collect kooky knickknacks from flea markets and souvenirs from my travels; I amass paper, paint and pencils for that next project that I always promise myself to get to next weekend. Oh, and then there’s my antique bottle collection, my bird statuettes, my books… You see my problem? So when I heard circles buzzing about the book on the trendy, life-changing organization method known aptly as “KonMari,” I knew I was the perfect candidate to try it.

The organizing consultant’s name is Marie Kondo. Her “KonMari” method of simplifying and organizing the home led to the runaway bestseller “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” She’s even garnered a cultlike following — they call themselves Konverts and proudly share before-and-after photos of their properly folded sock drawers and emptied closets. These Konverts were made just from reading her book. The real-life Kondo has a three-month-long waiting list.

In her native Japan, Kondo says, tidiness is a way of everyday living. She applies feng shui principles to the tenets of her tidying and ditches long-held organizational beliefs — such as cleaning little by little every day, storing items according to the seasons and discarding one item for every item brought into the home. She says that these principles, though meant to help, are the very reasons why we seemingly are never able to maintain our mess.

Instead, she advocates for one epic cleaning sweep: Keep only what “sparks joy,” discard everything else, and assign a home for everything within your home. Easier said than done, right? Kondo claims that this can be done but can take anywhere between a few hours to six months. I know what you are thinking — that is a crazy time span. But let me assure you that it can be done.

For the purpose of trying the KonMari method myself, I did this in a three-day weekend in the middle of winter (when the spring sunshine wasn’t going to lure me outside). My apartment was due for spring cleaning, and I was stuck indoors on a slew of blustery, snowy days, so why not? I had run out of excuses. It was time to take control of my clutter, once and for all. And these were the philosophies I had to adopt:

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LET GO OF THINGS TO MAKE ROOM FOR THE THINGS THAT MATTER

And I don’t mean material objects either.

Before you move a single thing, the first step in Kondo’s method is to visualize the life you wish to have with a clutter-free space. A free closet or uncluttered walls isn’t deep enough. Dig deeper. What does a life free of clutter mean to you? Maybe it means hosting more parties for your friends or adopting a pet or raising a baby. For me, I visualized a more creative home life: one in which I could bake more, draw more, paint on canvas more (a hobby I’ve all but abandoned since my move to New York). These things have been put aside for dealing with my everyday messes. And who wouldn’t want to spend time with friends over organizing china in the cabinet? Kondo asserts that by discarding things, we’re freeing up space for the things we love.

KEEP ONLY THE THINGS THAT SPARK JOY

What does that mean exactly?

One of the first steps in Kondo’s method is to identify what does, indeed, “spark joy” for you. Pick it up (don’t just observe it from afar on a bookshelf or under-bed storage box), turn it over in your hands, study it — how does this possession make you feel? How do you feel at the idea of discarding it forever?

The things that spark true joy for you won’t always be rational and in fact, Kondo encourages this intuition. There is an excerpt from book when she refers to one such item in her home — her Kiccoro T-shirt; it’s a memento from an expo she attended years ago and despite scoffing from others (“How can you keep this? Aren’t you embarrassed? How can you wear that? You should throw it away…”) she has held onto it with fierce affection. “These are the types of things you should boldly hold on to,” she writes. “If you can say without a doubt, ‘I really like this!’ no matter what anyone else says, and if you like yourself for having it, then ignore what other people think.”

“SOMEDAY” NEVER COMES

This is one of the little lies we tell ourselves. We can rattle off all the reasons (read — excuses) we “need” to keep something — whether that’s a weekend project or a stormy night without power — we simply hold on to it because we might “need it” someday. “Needing” something is not the same as “loving” something or even for recognizing the item for its inherent value.

Think of these “someday” possessions you own. For me, it might be a pile of magazine clippings or a bundle of “mystery wires” or a stockpile of beauty products. But what I realized was that I held onto these objects for all the wrong reasons. Instead, as I picked them up, I felt a creep of anxiety at the idea of letting them “go to waste” and the excuse bubbled up, “Well, what if I need it for…?” Yes, it’s good to be prepared, but at what cost? I barely noticed them in my home so obviously they weren’t desperately “needed.” I only felt anxiety at the idea of losing them. In fact, according to Kondo, possessions are stripped of their dignity when they go unused in the home. It is better to let them go.

TREAT YOUR POSSESSIONS AS IF THEY WERE ALIVE

I know, odd concept right? But before you doubt this theory, stop to consider how we treat our possessions on an everyday basis: We unceremoniously drop our coat, shoes and keys at the door. We stuff our drawers with sweaters, socks and shirts; and we banish our least-used items to the back of our closets. This is how a home becomes messy and, even worse, how we lose track of our own possessions. When deciding what to keep and what to discard, Kondo suggests pulling every single item out (by category) to display on the floor at once. Her clients are often shocked at the sheer amount placed before them.

To prevent this from happening, she encourages you to better respect the items for the use they provide you. This means storing items so they can each easily be seen at a glance, giving each room to breath, and even acknowledging the items with a mental “thank you” before putting them away at the end of the day. In other words, there should be a place for everything and everything in its place.

YOUR POSSESSIONS REFLECT YOUR STATE OF MIND

Wonder why you can’t let something go? Kondo says that we hold onto things for one of two emotional reasons — a fear of the future or to preserve the past. In my own KonMari tidying, I found that I’m guilty of the latter. In the depths of my desk drawers, I unearthed things I had long forgotten. Once brought to the light of day, they unleashed a flood of bittersweet memories: a painted seashell from the islands of Cinque Terre, a clotted cream fudge tin (long since empty of fudge) from Harrods in London, a tea cup from Cambridge where I studied abroad, a bag of sea glass collected in the early morning with my father at the seashore, a friendship bracelet from childhood, and of course, piles of photographs that have yellowed from the passing of years.

For me, this collection carried a special sort of power: They reminded me of my collected life experiences, but mementos do not celebrate the present and Kondo encourages us to celebrate the present. In doing so, I reclaimed power over my possessions; my possessions have no power over me.

— — Did you enjoy the read, do let me know. I think am gonna try this too to declutter my home and bring in more freshness and specially creativity . Happy blogging!!! Live.Love.Laugh ❤ ❤ ❤ — —
 

#Reflections – Almost Survived the Second Time

After almost six months of break from blogging, a hectic work schedule, a long travel to work and the daily house hold chores left me with absolutely no hopes of taking up the #AtoZChallenge this year. I personally knew and was sure that even if I did sign up for the challenge I would not complete it and leave it less than half way.  

And then just a week before the #themereveal was made I decided to at least sign up and try doing it as much as I can. As i pen down today my #Reflection post , I am really proud of what I achieved over the last month of the epic blogging challenge that i had signed up for.  I am happy that i could do justice to the place where i am born and brought up Andaman and Nicobar Islands by sharing information about it with the world out there. #AmazingAndamans would always be a special series of posts close to my heart.

Though the numbers were not as good as the last years i am still happy that I managed to sail through all the obstacles. 1378 Views || 798 Visitors || 181 Likes and 184 Comments ❤ ❤ ❤ To check out the complete list of my entries during the challenge click My #AtoZChallenge Blog Posts.
My top fav five from my #atozchallenge are definitely going to be
1. Experience Scuba Diving – this was my first scuba diving experience considering i don’t know swimming
2. Ross Island – my favorite place in Andaman and Nicobar Islands
3. Tsunami – its not everyday that you become part of a natural calamity and something which shook the entire world is altogether a different story
4. Heavenly Havelock – the world famous Havelock island and its Radhanagar beach is a must visit place for any tourist traveling to the islands
5. Planning a trip to Andaman?Must know!if every planning a trip to the islands you need to read my posts with all the tips and suggestions from the island girl herself, trust me you would thank me for this

Key takeaways from the #AtoZChallenge

Having a theme- saved me definitely!
Just a day before the theme reveal day i was going through all the possible topics on which i could manage 26 posts i realized that its easier to write when you are aware of the topic. Since i was recently back from a vacation and the place was my hometown i decided to write about it. Being aware of the content in general reduces half the pressure during the challenge. All you need to do is put it altogether. 
But i do appreciate bloggers who do not have a theme and still finish the challenge cause that must be a whole new level of picking a topic among such wide variety of genres to blog about. Also special mention to my friend Vinay who took inspiration for each post from the comments he received from his readers on the previous day’s post. I mean that is some adventure and kudos to him and he did great.

Framework of your posts
Where variety is widely accepted i think for challenges like these having a similar framework kind of helps both the audience and the blogger himself. Having the basic layout ready for the posts helps even if you don’t schedule all the cosmetic things are at least done and dusted.
I knew what my titles would be, i knew what signature i am supposed to leave considering we didn’t have a linky list this time which i think was not that bad after all as everyone was used to the signature and hyperlink methods that was shared on the a-z page.

Get guest bloggers if it helps
I think guest posts are real good deal if you have someone else also willing to write about the same theme as yours or even for posts that have not signed up with a theme. Last year i remember when i had chosen Emotions as my theme i had about 4 guest bloggers and two of them were non bloggers but loved writing. So i was happy cause i finally made them publish something on my blog and it was very well appreciated. Having guests blog is a good way of networking and bringing a style of writing change on your blog. This time though my topic was about my hometown it made sense to have no guest blogs.

Knowledge gained doing all the research
I am so happy i chose #AmazingAndamans as my theme this year cause there were so much information which was new to me also. I also made sure that what i wrote on my blog was correct and valid information since it would be helping readers out there who are interested in a vacation to the islands. I had to be more conscious of the facts and stats that was going up on my blog. I learnt a lot about the history and tribes of my islands beyond what was known to me.
For a matter of fact i think all travel related blogs hold responsibility of sharing valid information to its readers. Unlike a personal blog , travel blogs are a source of reference to readers and hence its our duty as a blogger to put up correct stuff on the blogs and i am glad i could answer many questions which i have heard over the years from people who want to travel to the islands along with my personal tips.

Social media – saved me!
I think a decent amount of visitors i got on my blog was from the social media accounts that i had. I got a good amount of response from Facebook specially from family and friends who were from Andaman and even the posts was shared on their profiles. Also Instagram and the #hashtags helped me gain lot of followers thereby having a significant increase both in my WordPress blog and Instagram handle.
As there was no linky list, the social media connect on Facebook for the a-z page also turned out to be a huge success. Since bloggers who sure shot posted their blogs as part of the challenge were commenting each day on the posts it made it easier to have track of all the bloggers who were actually participating in it unlike many blogs who would sign up but quit midway when there was a linky list happening.
One challenge that i found here was i would read the blog post of my blogger friends either via Facebook or Instagram when i would be on the go to work and thereby comment there itself or like it making it difficult for me to again go back to their WordPress account and doing the same thing. Did you face this?

Sign up for the challenge along with a group – Blogchatter
Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success. and this is what i have learnt being part of a community in general be it the a-z community or the Blogchatter brings in a lot of motivation to achieve your goals. Whenever i would think of quitting i would check the daily list on these two sites and would push myself to sit for those two hours post a hectic day to keep up with my resolution of completing the challenge. Even though i missed 7 posts of the 26 i think it was more than 70% and i did a pretty decent job. I really wanted to come up with an eBook which the blogchatter team is encouraging the members to do but am not sure if i really could do that maybe in the coming years i would definitely give it a try to get something published and this has got me thinking for next year’s theme which would do justice to an eBook. For now i think #galfromtheisland would make for a decent travel brochure for people looking to head out to Andaman islands for a vacation and this would be up soon on my blog.

Read, Follow, Comment, Share
Well I can keep iterating this all over again and again that the challenge is all about collaboration and networking. The whole idea of the challenge is to introduce us to other bloggers and to widen our blogging circle through reading and commenting.
I failed at this terribly this year as i could hardly keep up with any of the above said things. I hardly managed to read any new blogs except for a handful ; some salvation would be i ended up reading almost all the posts of few of my blogging friends like Reema, Shalini, Vinay.
During the last years challenge i had made up a plan of action for this years challenge and it was something like this – be prepared with the theme and topics in feb, schedule all posts by march and april would be all about reading, sharing , commenting and you all know how it went down the drain 😦 

My fav picks from the #AtoZChallenge

I am in awe with Reema’s post on 20 something life – i enjoyed every moment of it. As i hit thirty in about two months this series just reminded me of the decade 20 something life of mine. It was a flashback of all the memories, experiences and life lessons in 26 posts and to top it all of every song was just apt and made so much sense as the title of the posts.
Since my theme was travel i was happy to see Shalini’s blog on everything you ever wanted to know about Thailand. I have bookmarked her Thailand series and would have shared it with so many of my friends who are planning for a trip to Thailand. Also her cooking blog was yummy as always 🙂 With all the fav Indian dishes i think it was a perfect mix from chai to coffee, dhokla to rasam.
Vinay’s blog as i mentioned in the above – with all impromptu suggestions from his readers he put up the posts for the challenge.

New bloggers – on my fav list now

Met new bloggers like Soumya from Life of Leo – i really loved her blog and am sad i didn’t find this early but better late than never. Though her theme was all about books which i couldn’t relate much as am not an avid reader but i ended up reading her other work and I love love love her writing style – she is bold in her writing, and i know she hates when called bold 😛 I love her writing style cause she just speaks her mind which is what bloggers should do. If you don’t get what am trying to convey here you should head right to her blog.
Dr Bushra Nausheen’s post on A to Z of Pregnancy turned out to be a very informative post since my sister in law is due in august. The first thing i did was to share the link with her so that she can refer to the posts giving her the correct information from a doc herself.

A huge thank you and big hug to the below people for commenting on my posts so often that i am overwhelmed with joy and really grateful. 
Susanne Kim , Cheryl , Neha , Darla  , Pikakshi  , Bernice , Tina and 
Shinjini . I am going to revisit all of you to makeup for the delay. 

What worked and didn’t for me

Linky list – worked? Yes ! For me – No!
I am more of the To-do list kind it was easier for me when there was a linky list and i could easily search new blogs and check them out. Going through the comments and then navigating to the blogs was kind of challenging for me because i hardly got time to publish my own post so saving those links for future reference kinda thing ended being a tedious task. So for all those bloggers like me who were short in time would have preferred a linky list – are you listening co hosts?

Time zone
Since this challenge was open to all the bloggers in the world, time zone did make a huge impact as there was no linky list. Every day bloggers commented on the link page put up by the co hosts and it worked fine only issue was it took a lot of time to load the page with all the comments and then publish your comment with the particular day’s post. What happened is every time i would see the same set of bloggers comments on the top of the page and others towards the end due to the time zone difference. Having the linky list made it easier to track down the blogs below our own blog all in the same page for reference.

#AtoZChat – missed it!
Just like the linky list i missed the #atozchat which was a great way to come across new bloggers before the challenge even started. With the absence of both linky list and the #atozchat I could manage to read new blogs only when they commented or liked my post and kind of managed to reciprocate to theirs.

Survey
This year the Co-hosts have come up with a survey (designed by J. Lenni Dorner) with a certain set of questions which you can answer based on your experience throughout the challenge. I think this was a perfect ending to the challenge cause it really helps the co-host understand what the bloggers experienced and how the community page has helped its audience. I think this should be continued in the future years as well. If you have not yet taken the survey please do, and its open until May 20th. Take the survey here.

Finally a huge shout to all the amazing bloggers i came across this challenge, old and new. For sure i am going to come back and read all the missed posts during the days to follow cause i don’t want to give up on the reading at all. Thank you for all the comments and likes and congratulations for completing this ultimate blog challenge! A huge round of applause for the people behind the scenes from Arlee Bird who started this epic journey years back, all the co hosts and Blogchatter for making sure to post #atoz tips for bloggers throughout the month and for the constant support through mails, tweets etc.
All in all We survived ! We lived ! We conquered !

Until next year…. Live.Love. Laugh ❤ ❤ ❤
This is Sneha, #galfromtheisland signing off 🙂

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