Leap Day 2012

Once every 4 years on February 29th I release a perfume called Leap Day. It is available for 24 hrs only and then it is gone for 4 more years. This year the formula includes things like violet and new mown hay. It is quite a delightful marriage of unusual components and manages to be warm and cool at the same time. If you want to take a look, here is the link to it in the Valentines section of Possets Perfume.

An Ink Review Of A Lovely Red/Orange For Valentine's Day

If you are looking for something subtle but in the red family (with a touch of caramel) this is your ink. It is liquid ink for a fountain pen and is by a nice English company named Diamine.
Diamine Ancient Copper

Blue Ink-Anything But Boring

Blue ink sounds like the dullest thing ever. However, I have seen flamewars and cyber fist-fights break out over blue ink! What makes people so passionate about your granny’s favorite color of ink? Read on and find out…

First, in this modern world, you have to know that blue ink is any color you want, practically. If it can be made, it has been. From the almost black to a pale watery flit-azure, from dark greenish to a high keyed purpled periwinkle; blue is all over the highway.

There is a huge variation in the lightness/darkness of blue ink and it’s saturation. There is also a big variation in it’s lightfastness and waterproof qualities.

By far the most “safe” of blues in terms of being washable, non staining, presentable in every situation is Waterman’s Florida Blue or Sheaffer Blue. They are as middle of the road and un-attention grabbing as it is possible to be for a blue. Not intense, not leaning to the green or the purple side of the scale, there is nothing to set this class of blue apart from its surroundings, and it is meant to be mild like that.

On the other end of the spectrum, the most controversial blue out there has to be Noodler’s Baystate Blue (BSB as it’s known in ink circles). THE most vivid shade of ultramarine, it leaps off the page and contrasts brightly with every color around it. Add to this it’s almost divine staining power and slight purple tint and you have a rousing hue that only the most extroverted soul would dare use.

Bay State Blue has managed to whip up some astonishing passions among fountain pen afficianados. There are those who insist that it has permanently colored their pens, stained stainless steel sinks, and insinuated itself into every form of fiber/cuticle/housepet/ and possession you can think of. There are people who are deathly afraid of it and everyone councils you to devote one and only one pen to it if you must try it. Anyone among the initiated knows that Bay State Blue is treated like your mistress: kept under strict control, not allowed in “polite” places, and shown off discretely.

Of course, there are those who assert this is poppycock. Bay State Blue is simple a super saturated solution of ink which is indeed difficult to get out of fibers, but just takes a bit of body English to remove from hard surfaces. In any case, it is a wild bit of blue zazzle on a piece of white stationary. Not what you would use for a sympathy card but certainly for any cause for elation.

And there is every other ink maker’s take on blue. Private Reserve has a very bright D.C. Supershow Blue, Noodler’s American Eel Blue is very bright indeed and made to be lubricating to pens (tends to the green side of blue though), newly introduced ink maker De Atramentis has some very wild and very mild blues out there and a lot of them are scented! Diamine Majestic Blue is indeed fit for a queen, and J. Herbin Bleu Myosotis is THE most watery pretty periwinkle around.

Your taste will dictate what kind of blue ink you use, and I do think that which blue you use says more about your personality than just about any color! What do I use? Noodler’s Bay State Blue, I am an extrovert. On occasion I use Noodler’s American Eel Blue to lube my pens which are dry writers. But find out which one you are drawn to and then ponder what that all means in the ultimate scheme of things.

Pens and inks are a wonderful hobby, a great form of self expression. There is nothing quite so personal as a fountain pen and the ability to change inks quickly and across the entire spectrum is amazing fun.

This is one of the February Possets blogs on pens, inks, and sealing wax. Just in time for Valentine’s Day love notes. If you have a mind, come and take a look at Possets Perfume, too. It’s Bottled Happiness!

Scented Inks

The Silver RoseThere are only two commercial ink makers who make a scented ink: De Atramentis and J. Herbin. You can find either one on Amazon.com or a pen store on line. Scented inks are great fun and famous among ladies who want to pen scented billet-doux. However, be advised that contrary to popular opinion, scented ink won’t stay fragrant until it gets to the receiver, and so I deal with it as really for the amusement of the writer.

Of course, I have heard rumors to the contrary where DeAtramentis’ Field Flowers stayed hidden among the folds of a letter until released by the lucky recipient but that is a rarity.

J. Herbin is a very old ink maker (1670 was when it was founded). They pride themselves in offering inks which are made from as natural ingredients as they can use. The ink is not as saturated as most but it does come in quite a few varieties of fragrance and corresponding color (lavender, rose, apple, neroli, and violet).

Please know that both ink makers have had problems with mold growing in their inks in the past. De Atramentis seems to have solved this and I have not read any reports of it recurring. Also, DeAtramentis has a blinding array of different scented inks—it’s a trademark of theirs, and they come in every color under the sun. So many different fragrances they have that they have to divide their offerings into separate categories to keep from becoming too confusing! I was especially taken with their Ylang-Ylang ink for its fragrance (it’s the real deal) and offbeat light salmon color.

As for making your own scented inks, I would not try that. You can harm a pen with some of the essential oils in store bought scents so let the pros do this one. You just enjoy them!

This is one of the February Possets blogs on pens, inks, and sealing wax. Just in time for Valentine’s Day love notes. If you have a mind, come and take a look at Possets Perfume, too. It’s Bottled Happiness!

Fountain Pens…The Mid Range Series $50 to $150

ladywritingWhen I say Mid Range I am talking about something pretty good in the FP world now. The reigning king here has to be TWSBI. It’s a writing instrument from Taiwan which had taken the pen world by storm. Big, see-through, with a reliable start up and lay down nib, piston fill (very very popular), AND a wonderful reputation for customer service, this is a real great pen. You can change the nibs if you can screw in a lightbulb, so go from an extra fine to a double broad in minutes. Your choice. Writes smoothly every time.

The higher end Lamy pens are very popular as well. The Studio model is a racy brushed steel with black softer material around where you grip. Feels quite substantial and writes smooth and easy. And you can change the nib to any size and material you like. Want a gold nib? You can have that but you have to buy it separately. Neat-o.

The Pelikan is a very prestigious and respected pen and their serious series M200 starts at about $100. Plain Jane black or marbled green are the usual colors, and there is a wide choice of nibs (F to B). It might not be an ultra fancy pen, but it has all the features that make Pelikans great. If you want to get into serious pen collecting, this is your gateway. There are places which do sell the M200 with more particular nibs (like italic) but I am not going to confuse matters here.

At the upper end, the Pilot Custom 74 is a beautiful pen. Smooth nib and see through body is quite a combination. You will love the feel of such a highly polished, bump free tip on the Pilot. They are famous for a buttery smooth pen. The see through body lets you tell how much ink you have left, and it’s very cool to look at the inner workings of the instrument. By the way, all see through pens are called “demonstrators” and can be clear, amber, smoke, violet or any color you can imagine. The Custom 74 is about $150, perhaps a bit more in some places.

This might be a good time to call to your attention that there are two kinds of merchants selling these higher end fountain pens. First, some merchants get the pens in a box from the maker and store them, sell them, and go on to the next customer never opening the box. This kind of merchant usually sells for the lowest price and does high volume. The do not tune nibs and do not tweak pens for you. You would consider this sort of a merchant if you are not picky about your nibs and you are buying a pen with a great reputation for being super right out of the box with no fiddling. The low price merchants are best for buying high end pens which have a tendency to be better quality all around so you can just take them out of the box, ink them up, and enjoy them.

If you need to have the nib tuned, you want to buy your pen from a “nibmeister” sort of a seller. This is a store which will adjust the nib for your kind of writing. If you like a right handed, “wet” writer which responds to light pressure, they can give it to you with a deft polishing which makes the nib react the way you want. The also test a pen and rewrap it up so you have the fun of “unboxing” it when you receive it. The nibmeister will try a pen out before he ships it to you to be sure that he is not passing on a lemon, which can happen even in the highest end pens. You pay a bit more for nibmeister pens but the chance of them being out of the acceptable zone is much lower. Most nibmeisters will stand behind their product and have reputations to uphold.

Personally, after a few purchases, I would recommend that you buy your pens from the nibmeister kind of a seller. A nib that does not suit you is not going to be part of a pen that gives you anything but trouble and pain. Pay the small extra and have your new pen come in the way you want it. Even though the majority of pens from companies in the $50+ range are perfect, there is always one that makes it through without detection. I just bought a Pilot pen from a box merchant thinking that the nib was going to be AOK out of the package, it wasn’t. I sent it back to the manufacturer and they are coping with it. Not the end of the world, but if I had gotten it from a nibmeister, they would have turned it around and could have even done a bit more customizing for me if I had wanted it. But it’s your call.

Next Possets Blog is going to be about Blue Ink. Think that is boring, it isn’t. Blue can be one of the most scintillating colors out there. In the meantime, take a look at the Possets website. If you are looking for great perfume at a great price, www.possets.com is the place to search.

Ink

If you think that ink is just some dull stuff which has been made the same way for centuries, you are wrong. There has been a gigantic revolution in the ink making world! Every color you can imagine (and some which are complete surpises), every property you could ever need (feel like writing your great novel in Antarctica? you can with a “Polar” ink, and in any color you like). Scented, natural, tamper-proof, the works.

One of the most controversial colors nowadays is black. Who makes the blackest black, that is the question. The answer is “it all depends”. Yes, the kind of pen, the broadness of it nib, the paper on which you write and your writing speed all have an effect on the darkness of the line. A slow writer on fairly non absorbent paper, with a broad nib wet pen would probably put down the darkest line of ink.

Montblanc makes a very expensive pen and some very nice ink to go with it. Their black is called “Mystery Black” and it is very dark and comes in an unusual and practical “shoe-like” bottle. It’s about $19.

On the other hand, a company called Noodler’s sells an astonishing array of ink and ELEVEN different fountain pen blacks! At least 11, maybe more. Some are totally waterproof (trust me, I have written on a piece of paper and submerged it and the writing is just as fresh as it was when it was new an hour later). That one is called “Noodler’s Black”. There is Polar Black (that writes in cold weather), X-Feather which can write on practically any paper and not feather, Heart of Darkness (which some people swear is the darkest black out there), Bad Black Moccasin (which cannot be washed off by forgers), quick dry Bernenke Black (named after the chair of the Fed), and more. 3 oz are $12.50.

Of course there is the venerable Parker Quink which can be found in your local office supply store for a small price. It is black and costs very little and it is legendarily non staining in pens and easy to flush out when you want to clean your pen.

Lots of people love Aurora Black and consider it the best of the best. AT $13.75 for 45 ml it is quite expensive. However, it is lubricating to pens so it’s great for those with scratchy nibs.

Private Reserve, Sheaffer, and Waterman are all good yeoman’s inks. Not too expensive and dark only Private Reserve is super saturated and might stain your pen (though it probably would not). They are all fairly inexpensive and have their vibrant fans.

Just about every pen company makes an ink and every ink comes in black. Which one you like depends on the taste you develop over the course of your career with fountain pens. I like Noodler’s for it’s utter blackness and waterproof properties. However, you might fall in love with Aurora, like so many people have, and refuse to use any other kind.

People get passionate about ink so be prepared to turn into an affectionado over this issue.

This is the series on pens, inks, and sealing wax from Possets Perfume. It is going to continue for the month of February and is about the art and pleasure of using Fountain Pens and their accouterments.

Pens–What Do You Start With?

It’s the season to write love notes to your sweetie and it’s high time that we discussed the instruments to execute your billet-doux (love letters). You can, of course, use the pedestrian ball point pen, or the modern gel writer. They are good and serviceable things to write with BUT if you want to make an impression, use a fountain pen.

Most of us have an unused fountain pen lying around. It’s probably got old dried up ink in it and won’t write. Well, cleaning them up is a bit off topic for here, so why don’t we just talk about getting a new one?

Modern fountain pens might look similar to the untrained eye but there have been huge advances and innovations and recreations in the new ones which makes them almost irresistible. The colors, styles, preciousness of latter day pens is extraordinary.

If you want something bargain basement but looks like a million dollars, try one of the Chinese pens. Jinhao and Hero are two brands which are very popular indeed and some can be had for less than $10 but look and feel like you stole them off the desk of the President of France. They take mostly bottled ink and have huge nibs. Quite glitzy.

Of course if you are interested in the less flashy type of modern pen, but you don’t have a lot of money to spend on this, try the Pilot 78G. This is a little wonder of a pen which writes like a dream and costs as little as $9.99. It looks good (OK, it’s a bit cheap looking) but the nib is so well made you will have a hard time believing how inexpensive it was.

Willing to go up a bit? Try a Pelikan Pelikano. Pelikan is one of the most respected names in fountain pens ever. They are a German company and make a gorgeous and wildly expensive line of pens, but they have an entry level pen for children which writes like a dream. I have never taken out my Pelikano and tried to write where it failed me. The line is pleasingly wet, always ready to go, and fun to use. Not a pen for the middle of a poe-faced meeting, it is a brightly colored and thick one, but very good and works well.

Willing to go up to about $30? Good, Lamy is a great pen. These have interchangable nibs and any number of different types of bodies. The Safari is a go-to pen for a great many people because it is light weight, works always on command, has a decent ink capacity and a see through window to tell when you are running low.

Go on line to e-Bay for the Cross Solo, or try looking it up on Amazon.com, too. The Cross Pen Company was the darling of M.B.A.’s everywhere in the late 1970s and 80s. Known mostly for their slim gold and gold filled ballpoints, they had lines of fountain pens which were usually thought to be dull dull dull. Well, they were pretty good pens, nothing particularly good or bad BUT they made an entry level pen (the Solo) which had a marvelous nib and put down such a reliable and wet line of ink that you just wanted to write on and on and on and….well you get the picture. The Solo just had “it”, that thing which made you feel like it was made just for you.

There are some really wonderful disposable fountain pens out there, too. The Pilot Varsity is a great find, usually in office supply stores. Lots of fun to use and lays down a lovely line, it’s reliable, doesn’t skip and makes the nib skate across the page. At about $2, this is a no brainer.

Where do you go to find these low priced wonders? Try Amazon.com, e-Bay has some good sellers, or try making friends with some of the best retailers on the internet who do nothing but sell pens. Todd Nusbaum at www.isellpens.com is a wonder. He has just about every entry level pen you could possibly want and more. Then there are The Goulets at www.gouletpens.com who consistently go over the top for their clients. www.jetpens.com should not be overlooked, they have a plethora a entry level/children’s/and novelty pens and it’s just good clean fun to get on their site and root around.

Even if you are using a kiddie pen, your handwriting will look so much better if you use a fountain pen. People can just tell that you have gone through a little bit more trouble to make your words heard. Hey, even Neil Gaiman uses a fountain pen, but more about that later.

Visit me at Possets Perfume to round out that perfect gift for Valentine’s Day!

Weight Loss–Maintaining

VigorAs is fitting for the very last Possets’ blog in the series on weight loss, let’s talk about maintaining your nice svelte figure. You have counted calories and eschewed gooey treats. You have eaten portions less than half of what you used to eat, suffered hunger pains, given up your mid day snack and worked out until you dropped. Now you have reached your goal weight and it’s business as usual, right?

Wrong. Sorry, my friends, if you want to maintain your target weight you are going to have to change your life or face the unappetizing prospect of getting just as fat (and probably fatter) than you were before. Why? Because you changed your habits and learned to eat more, move less, and live with it as your weight went up. It became normal to have ice cream twice a week, going out was what you did, and one Coke wasn’t going to hurt anything. Alas, all of those calories piled up when they were not burned off.

I was reading a story about a man who gained 60 lbs over the course of 3 or so years. He did the math and it turned out that if he ate just 50-60 calories more per day than he needed he would gain a lot of weight. Yes, it adds up and it’s easy to do.

So you really have to change the way you live if you want to stay slim. Exercise will always be important so make sure you get enough every day: walk as much as possible, go to the gym and get into the routine, take up a sport as a hobby. Most importantly, stay away from food. Food is cheap, plentiful, usually fussed with to make it more calorie laden (putting cheese on everything is a great way to boost calories). Be very aware of what you eat and learn to fix your own meals. Start looking at eating out as a very unusual thing to do and be sure that you don’t finish everything on your plate. On trips, watch the skinny people, they never finish everything, that is one of their big secrets of success. Also, the more simple it is, the better it is for you. Skip the sauces, never mind the stuff with canned fried onions on it, stuff with cream cheese ooozing out of it is wrong for you.

Tracking your daily weight, deciding where you have to stop and take another look at your eating habits and get back to your sensible routine is a key, too. Set a limit for any weight gain you have, that is why it is so important to weigh every day and write it down. Please be honest with yourself, and take charge. I know you will be glad you did.

Pretty soon you will start living the life and I find I had to set a goal of maintaining and stick with it. I made it through Christmas for the first time in decades and didn’t gain anything. I didn’t make Xmas cookies, didn’t go out all the time, baked or grilled and no souffles. Heavy on the vegetables, and it’s magic that just a pat of butter will give the flavor and smell of butter to a big dish of vegetables! I substitute Fage Greek yogurt for sour cream and it is delicious (0% fat and it acts just like sour cream, tastes like sour cream). So, your meals don’t have to be dreaded, they can be great but just lose the food obsession.

I will never forget the moment when I realized that America had gone food crazy. I was actually in Maine and a group of us were sitting around talking about a party that was going to be given and one of the group rolled her eyes and said,”There is going to be foooooooood there! Fooooood!” And I thought,”Yeah, so what, most parties have food at them,” but there was this desperation and longing about the way she said it that made you realize food was more to her than just, well, food. That is the road to trouble, and I am sorry to say that’s the road I had to leave.

Maintaining is the hardest part of losing weight. I weigh myself every day, record the calories of what I eat, and look up how many calories are in what. I make sure I don’t wolf down everything on my plate and I do exercise every day. I have maintained my weight for 6+ months now and I really have to say that the trade off from my gluttony and sloth vs. moderation and activity is well worth it. My friends are pretty much the same way, too. Parties aren’t stuffed with dips and cheese and sugar and stuff. My friends are active and like to go out and discover new things rather than stay in one spot and eat. It has all helped my outlook. My goal is to be at the same weight I am now by next June 20. My goal after that? I think I will repeat!

So, good luck on your own maintaining after weight loss. You will be tempted at every turn but you can control your own destiny!

This is the last in the series of blogs on weight loss by Fabienne Christenson from Possets Perfumes. The next series of blogs will be about fountain pens, inks, and sealing wax; just in time for writing love notes for Valentine’s Day! Think you know a lot about romantic writing instruments? Well, I bet you don’t know what people have come up with recently, the new ideas on this old topic are really wonderful. Stay in touch and read for yourself! In the mean time, if you are of a mind to find a nice clean and light scent for working out, try one of the Possets’ Fitness Blends: Vim, Vigor, and Victory. Try them out as part of a Sample Pack! They are just about perfect to keep you fresh and good smelling while not being intrusive at all.