Wish or not Wish?

A couple of years ago, I heard people having bought colouring pens on Ali Express and Wish, in my Facebook group for adult colouring books. Out of curiosity, I went on to the sites and looked, but my first impression was that  the ordering system was strange and even more so, the search engines were absolutely atrocious in my opinion. When searching for pencils, I got up sexy knickers and other things, as far from pencils as possible. So, I deleted the apps as quickly as I had installed them.

But this said, as soon as I joined the bullet journaling society, I once again started to hear about these places and saw evidence of what looked like really nice items. Like washi tapes, stickers and rubberstamps/acrylic stamps. Against better judgement, I did go ahead and did order some items. I say against my better judgement, since anyone going in to those sites ought to know better than to expect nice things to arrive or anything of quality. You do not get quality items from China, that is just how it is. All they do is copy off things from the west and make their own budget versions, inferior in both quality and look. And of course not everything cost. For a lot of items, you only pay shipping, nothing for the item itself. That in itself ought to be a warning sign.

I guess the reason these sites have become so popular, is the fact that everything is dirt cheap. So much so, that if you hate the item, you have not lost a lot of money and can put the thing straight in the garbage bin. It has also opened up the possibility for everyone with covetitis, to own the items they have dreamed of owning, at a lower price, that they can actually afford. They seem to think ”So what if  it is not great? Who cares, it is almost the real thing, right?”

As for the items I did order. Well, after a three-four month waiting time, I could finally  go with my pick up slips to the postal representative, which doubles as a supermarket, and fetch my tiny, tiny packages, having arrived via registered mail. And what arrived? IF the correct washi tapes were sent to me, they were useless all the same. My four purchased washi tapes can be summed up like this: The glue does not stick and they certainly are not of Japanese paper quality. Either they are completely plastic or of some strange thick paper, but never the famous see through, easy to rip tape. The box of stickers I ordered, are poorly made. And finally, the acrylic stamps stink of chemicals and can hardly be removed from the protective sheet they are supposed to be just stored on. Needless to say, there is no point in complaining or ask for your money back. You will not receive any replacement or apology of any kind. And definitely not your money back. You are not even allowed to give feedback for your items, so how others have been able to give feedback, is beyond me.

Now, some people are as happy as can be, with their wish and ali express bullet journal supplies. As usual, it is a matter of preference. Some of us, can’t abide bad quality. I myself is a perfectionist when I create and there is no way to create beautiful or satisfying things, with bad products. So, for me, wish and ali express is no option at all. What has happened in Sweden concerning this matter though, has had more far fetched consequences than you could ever dream of.

The Swedish government, has discovered an untapped source of income. To their horror, they found out that Swedes have been ordering millions of items from Wish for years now and the state having lost millions in taxes, thanks to it. The postal service called PostNord kindly informed them of this, when accused of not doing their job properly. You see, last autumn, lots of people did not receive their mail at all or did not receive packages ordered from EU countries. Not even domestic ones, made it to their destinations. Why? Because PostNord was overwhelmed with the China packages from Wish. EU and domestic packages went back to the senders, because no pick up slips were ever sent out.

How do I know all this? Well, I ordered acrylic stamps from a German artist on Etsy, a stuffed animal from a English seller on eBay and a Freddy Kruger outfit from a Scottish seller, also on eBay. The two latter were meant to be Christmas presents for my boys, so I sent for them in plenty of time, before Christmas, just to make sure they arrived in time. But they never arrived. To my horror, when I started to investigate the matter, I found out, that all three packages had been sitting for more than 14 days at the supermarket’s post office section. No slips for pick up had  been sent out, nor any reminders. So there was no way for me to know that they were there and no way to fetch them either. Without the slips, no packages. Now, what ensued was tragic. I had to start a fight with the sellers on eBay. The stuffed toy seller said nothing but just paid back the sum. They would not hear of re-sending the item. The seller of the Freddy Kruger outfit lied and told me that the package had not arrived back to them, even though it could be tracked as having done so. I had to open a case against them on eBay to get my money back. And then take the risk and order from someone else and have it arrive here on the 22 December. Talk about last-minute! But the German package was the worse. The seller hardly spoke any English and trying to explain what had happened was not easy. After ten e-mails she agreed to finally re-send the package, but I of course had to pay for it! Why? After all, I HAD NOT DONE ANYTHING WRONG! But PostNord only claimed that if a package goes back like that, then it is the sender who has to re-claim the money at her local post office and then that post office has to claim the money in their turn, from PostNord. It would be easier to squeeze blood out of a stone! I know for a fact, that the German artist never got any money back from her post office and I do not dare to order from her again, since I am obviously not in her good books. Sad, because she creates some lovely acrylic stamps.

But let us get back, to the China packages. As usual big brother up in Stockholm have decided that the ordering outside EU must come to a stop. Politicians are going to teach us the right way, they are. One politician stated that we should not order outside the EU because noone knows what those items contain. They might actually harm us! But if this tactic does not work and we insist on being naughty, well all the migrants are costing a fortune, so we have ourselves to blame. The excuse for doing what they are doing will be politically correct of course. Our purchases give unfair competition to poor Swedish companies, so now we must pay as punishment. But the truth is that what we are paying for is to keep the liberal immigration policy going.  Finally, the government has found an appropriate milking cow!

From the 1 March, every single package arriving from outside the EU, soon the UK will be added, has been charged 75 SEK / £6.34 / € 7.28 / $8.95 punishment fee, since PostNord personnel now actually have to do something for their salaries. They want that 75 SEK in order to print up a paper that will tell you that you must pay them 75 SEK. To this is always added tax to the government, according to what the item cost you. In other words, sending for a washi tape for a $1 will end up costing you $1 + 75 SEK + tax. Noone in their right mind will send for anything they do not REALLY need or DESIRE more than anything in the world, from Wish. For that amount of money, you can get the real thing, not Chinese fake products,  manufactured in Japan, sold by an Etsy seller located in France or Germany, who have imported them cheaply from the country of origin.

How has this new rule struck the Swedes? Well, I just talked to an American lady who works in the local toy shop. She has lived in Sweden for 15 years now, being married to a Swede, and her family in the US has always sent her Birthday and Christmas gifts. Her sister was late in sending them this last Christmas, so the lady was caught by the new rules, which means that not only are you charged 75 SEK plus tax for things you have bought from outside the EU, you also get charged the same amount for gifts sent to you by friends and family. In order to get her family’s late Christmas presents sent to her, she had to pay 500 SEK / £ 42.28 / € 48.55 / $ 60 and she did not have a heart to refuse paying it, nor did she have a heart telling her sister what happened.

I talked to a Japanese lady whose mother sent her some items from Japan. Not only did it take one month for her to get the nasty letter, which tells you that they are holding your package in Stockholm and awaiting payment from you, but they require her to pay for her mother’s gift to be released and she plain refuses. She has decided to take up the fight with them and they are unbending. In other words, not only has PostNord and the Swedish government put a stop to world trade, but they have also decided to not make any difference between gifts and purchases. In this international world, where people often have married across borders, studied abroad and made friends all over, well, this is heartbreaking. To tell friends and family overseas, that there is no point in them sending anything but a Birthday card/Christmas card in the future, hurts, because which person does not appreciate the thrill of opening a gift now and then? And what does this have to do with China and Wish?

Wish sprung out of nowhere, as did Ali Express, and as far as Sweden goes, the sites will soon lose all their customers. It will take a while, till all Swedes contemplating to buy things from them, realize that PostNord and the government mean business. But after that, noone will say ”I bought it on Wish” and have everyone rush to that seller to get the same item, as have been the custom before. It is actually already happening, since I just read in a daily Swedish newspaper, that 700 000 packages are sitting at PostNord in Stockholm, the recipients refusing to pay the fees and just letting them remain where they are.

What are my thoughts? I want to say that all of it stinks. I really do not know why it makes me think of how the government introduced the people to gaming. State run casinos etc. Most of us objected to them, since we knew that it would create obsession and addiction in a lot of people. And that leading to a cost to society, when society has to pay for the treatment of the addicts. The new policy of stopping all packages smacks hypocrisy to me. It is all about money. It has nothing to do with protecting the population against something bad. This new policy has nothing to do with caring about people. It is all big brother.

Will I stop ordering outside the EU? No. Sweden’s selection of products over all, is poorer than poor. When it comes to everything. Food, clothing, you name it,  but I will take this thing called Bullet Journaling, as an example. A man called Ryder Carroll, having ADHD, tried to get structure in his life and his planner system has exploded in to an entire industry.  There are several notebooks available outside Sweden’s borders, for bullet journaling, in all price categories, while here, you have at the most three brands to choose from. THREE! The Swedish government is telling us that we should be content with only a few things offered to us! Which in my ears smacks of communism. And where people happy with only a few choices in DDR? In the USSR? No!

Part of my goodies ordered since I started bullet journaling. None of it available in Sweden or in the EU. It had to be ordered from Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines.

Then look at pens. The same thing. Someone sits somewhere and says that all shops in Sweden must sell only these few brands of pens, and that ought to be enough for the Swedish population. I have just written a long blog post about pens and how among other things, you can’t get bullet proof ink for fountain pens in Sweden. Here they have decided that we shall not have the option of waterproof, permanent ink!  When you get to washi tapes and rubberstamps, the situation is insane. Someone  have decided that Swedish women are not allowed to like CUTE! We are all supposed to be adult and be boring. And heaven forbid that we should have differing tastes. A Swedish woman/man with a feminine side, must not love cute pandas or bear rubberstamps from Japan, even though the rest of the bullet journaling world loves them. Nothing Japanese must cross our borders at all, because Swedish women are all rational and have put everything girlie behind us, when we climbed out of our nappies at age two. All of us must be feminists and have Gudrun Schyman as a role model (very adult communist who turned feminist).

I only have one more thing to say and that is that as long as noone in this country understands the market, us women will order, perhaps not from Wish, but certainly from Asia and the US. We will order Hobonichis from Japan because we want the best paper in the world, we will order stickers, washi tapes and rubberstamps from Taiwan, Thailand, the Philippines as well as Japan. Because THEY have understood the market and what we all want.  We are not a communist people intent on always adulting nor are we content with a GREY LIFE! And while PostNord and the government are making it hurt bad when being naughty, they can not stop a trade that all other EU countries allow. Shopping will just change its face.

A page in my bullet journal which could never have been created had I only shopped supplies from Sweden or within the EU.

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Swedish Booksale 2018

To my horror, I realized that not only would I have to fight with the beast of the east, to get to the book sale this year, but I also had to fight with time, since my youngest son, had to go for his yearly ultra sound, to check on his faulty right kidney. I did not know if it would be possible to squeeze in a visit to the book shop, before heading to the hospital, but with seven children, I have become some sort of whiz at logistics. I got everyone up early, got out the door earlier than usual, even though I had to have my tardy teenage daughter with me as well, who moves in slow motion when it comes to everything. And to my amazement, I actually got in to town in reasonable time, after having dropped off two boys in two villages, pretty hastily. F. and I headed together to the big book shop, her with the aim of Charlotte Brontë and any teenage books, and me, with a list of books, I just had to have.

F. ended up choosing ”Villette” by Brontë, since she has had to write two papers on that author and her, only having read ”Jane Eyre”, which was not on the sale. She put some of the teenage books back, when I pointed out, that some books are just better borrowing at the library. Instead I handed her, a very own copy of ”Sense & Sensibility”, since every girl ought to have her own copies of all of Jane Austen’s work, in my opinion.

Now, this year, I did get too many books, but there were some really nice ones and since we made sure to have our choices made before 10:00, we got four books for the price of three, which helped. And there were some that I did not want to live without. One of them was Marte Michelet’s book ”Det största brottet” or in translation it would be ”The Biggest Crime: Victims and Offenders in the Norwegian Holocaust”. This is a book that I first saw in the Swedish Military Library club and could not afford, but a very important book indeed. Anti-Semitism has always been strong in Norway, even though they have always had the least Jews. And it was terribly strong, even after all Jews were gone, since people were convinced they were not gone. If anyone listened to propaganda about Jewish conspiracy etc. it was the Norwegians. To be honest, when I read a 600 page book on anti-Semitism, it was quite apparent that the countries with the least Jews, were the most anti-Semitic. A very sad fact! This book, will talk about the Norwegian society making the Norwegian Holocaust possible, the police and Nazis helping out, but also the everyday person.

Another book I wanted to read, just because I have read all her other books, was Hédi Fried’s ”Frågor jag fått om Förintelsen” or ”Questions I have received about the Holocaust”. Ever since she arrived in Sweden after the war, as a survivor of three camps, being a Hungarian Jew, she has travelled around to schools all over Sweden and Universities, lecturing on the Holocaust. This will probably be her final book, since she is getting to be very old. She is in her late 90s and when I last saw her on TV, she was showing signs of beginning memory loss. Not particularly strange after the circumstances, but none of us who fear anti-Semitism, want these witnesses to die off.

The third book in the picture, ”The Impossible Exile. Stefan Zweig at the End of the World”, is a biography on Stefan Zweig, who was a famous author in his day, before Hitler made it impossible for him to stay in his beloved Austria. He and his wife escaped the Holocaust, but ended up taking their lives in 1942, while living in Brasil. Who was Stefan Zweig? Well, if you have seen ”Hotel Budapest” with Ralph Fiennes in the lead role, then you know at least one Zweig story. The book is written by George Prochnik, whose family also escaped the Holocaust, by leaving Wien in time.

So three Holocaust books, in a way. Then we move over to my favourite topic of all historic ones: World War II. And here I of course could not pass up, yet two more books on Winston Churchill. The man never ceases to amaze nor entertain. You always learn some new aspect.

The third book in this picture, is going to be a very disturbing one. ”Year Zero” will show a completely different view of 8 May 1945. Churchill happily stood in front of his people, making the Victory sign. 101st Airborne, Easy Company, sat in Southern Germany and drank themselves silly on Nazi alcohol. People danced on Trafalgar square, secretaries threw out paper flakes over the main street in Stockholm, people danced in New York and that famous kiss between a sailor and a nurse took place. At the same time, war was not over. Happiness and relief moved in to serious retaliation. Women in Germany were being raped by Russian soldiers and French women by American soldiers. People were moved around like cattle, starving, and there was no way to pick up the pieces of a normal life. Russian POWs were regarded as traitors in their own country and were sent to Siberia. This book will show that you can’t expect a signed peace treaty to suddenly transform a society built up on warfare into a normal functioning society.

The next three books I bought, are a combination of history and biography, as all biographies of course are. The war years in Sweden, are described in pictures, in the most expensive of the books I bought. I did not know whether to get it or not but when my daughter claimed that ”Sweden was never in the war, so a completely useless book”, I definitely had to put the book in my basket. No, we did not have a war front in Sweden. No, we did not have any Swedish Jews deported to concentration camps. No, we did not have any bombs dropped ”on purpose” in Sweden. But, to be surrounded by German occupying forces and having the Germans meddle in all Swedish affairs, was not something people lived with in a joking manner. The threat was real, from 1940 on, that the Germans might show up one day and occupy our country. And even if our country was not up to the latest technology, it was sure not going to invite them to stay! My own grand-father was called up for military service the entire war. And my grand-mother constantly had a bag packed in order to take her two daughters up to the forests in Småland, if the invasion would take place. They had to live off rations like the rest of the population. So to say, that the war was far away from Sweden, is not entirely correct. Another aspect was not letting Jews in. So many could have been saved, and were not. Not until the Danish Jews were in danger of being liquidated, did Sweden step up and help. I opened up one page in the book, and it happened to be this one:

A sight that should make every Swede disgusted and ashamed! ”Jews and Half Jews not allowed inside”

I said to F. ”This is why I need to get this book!” She looked in horror at the picture and decided that yes, we need this book. These pictures will show what life was like for my mother and her parents, for my dad and his family. That just because Sweden was neutral, does not mean it did not get affected.

Another important book to read is Hans Fallada’s prison diary, which he hid between novel text, so that his Nazi guards would not discover what he was doing and writing about. He was one of the few resistance fighters that Nazi Germany had. And as such, he was watched, accused and put in prison several times. This diary is from 1944 when things were really going down hill for the master race.

Oh no, I just discovered that Simone de Beauvoir’s memoir is just the first part! Right… I did not see the second part at the sale so here is hoping that part two will come on sale next year? Strong women are always important to get better acquainted with in my opinion, when one belongs to the ”weaker sex” oneself. Women like de Beauvoir can inspire and give a new sense of pride and I sure want to read about how this girl rebelled against what was expected of her, as a bourgeois French girl, at the beginning of the 1900s.

Now, I am not really in to reading a lot of novels. Especially not new ones since I do not like how every modern novel crams sex and homosexuality down our throats. So we will see how the following will be, but Paulo Coelho should be good, taking on the story of world-famous spy Mata Hari. The other one should also be a good one, about an important decision during 1941. Dutch diplomat Oscar finds out that the Germans will invade Russia and should he inform countries of this fact even though the Gestapo is having both him and his daughter Emma under surveillance?

The last two books hardly need any introduction, but if you are in to Agatha Christie and wants to own the books yourself, these editions are beauties. Hardcover, art deco on the inside covers and the old-fashioned beautiful illustrations on the outside, make these a nice addition to a book-case. These came out in new translation to celebrate Agatha’s 125th Birthday and although I prefer reading books in their original language, this book sale is mainly about books in Swedish, so… beggars can’t be choosers. Most of the books I have bought today, are translations, but they are hardcovers and that makes all the difference to me. I will never be a friend of paper backs!

The 16th book? Well, I decided to not get a bunch of children’s books this year. Many can be borrowed at the library. And unfortunately my three youngest are not really book readers. My 14-year-old is only interested in reading ”Lord of the Rings” and ”the Hobbit”. Mainly because he has seen them on film and loves them all. He also is autistic and has ADHD, so reading is too time consuming and is problematic. My 11-year-old autistic son only looks at pictures in books and we suspect dyslexia, so books are not appreciated. My 9-year-old autistic son is slowly learning how to read, but he prefers books for young children and for me to read them to him. Which means we have half a house full of books for him already. But that said, we did come home with one interesting book for him and maybe the others to peek in. About space and having funny flaps to open. I know, pretty sad to forego the children’s book sale almost entirely, but reality has finally sunk in.

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Just a short little post today, to show an alternate way of celebrating Valentine’s Day. For me, it is not at all about roses and chocolates. Perhaps, because it is not something which I grew up with in Sweden. Noone ever spoke about that day at all, in my childhood or youth. But thanks to all shop keepers, we have been made aware of it, and now everyone seems to celebrate it in their own little ways.

This morning when I dropped my youngest at school, I was greeted by this:

The hugging ”square”. Step in to it if you need a hug!

And yesterday, he came with homework to be done during the 14th February. So instead of being a peaceful afternoon, I had to help him do this homework, since it was a VERY difficult one to do, for an autistic child! Other children are supposed to do it themselves, in order to be kind to their parents, but he can not do any of these things by himself:

Vacuum, write a nice note, help with dinner, make the bed, do dishes, make hot chocolate (really it said coffee or tea, but since our religion forbids this…), set the table, sort socks, make a ”semla” for his brother and carry in things from the car. Actually, I gave him his sock bag, to match up the socks, and this he did very well. But when I gave him my sock bag, he was tired!

While the children were in school, I finished my weekly spread in my bullet journal, which was created to please, the above mentioned son. It is one of his favourite films, one that he always relate different things in life, to.

Before you think, oh wow, you ought to know, that the idea came from @doodledaydarlings on Instagram. I saw her weekly layout a week ago or so and immediately thought of ”Gubby”. I wanted to make him happy, so I TRIED to make something similar to hers. She being an artist and me, well me being a non-artist. Wall-E became too skinny, the arm too short, Eva’s head… But, I did it! And their love is true love, is it not?! So perfect for this week and day!

Since the children came home from school, they have eagerly awaited their father’s homecoming and dinner. Because after dinner it was time for my treat, that I buy for them, EVERY Valentine’s Day:

This is what Valentine’s Day is for me, love through service. It is a day like every other day, but the 14th February, I bring a smile to my children’s faces, with bakery baked pastry. And are they not the prettiest?

To all my followers

and to all who stumbles on this post

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Bullet Journal 100: Part 2 ”Notebooks: Nuuna & Scribbles That Matter”

In my last post, I discussed why I started bullet journaling and why you might contemplate doing the same. I also discussed the matter of choosing the perfect notebook for YOU. Or not? My first purchase, was a Leuchtturm1917, and it turned out to be one of those bad purchases you would rather forget about having made. Only, I had invested a lot of time and creative energy in it, so it really had me down.

After a lot of research, I started getting really serious about a notebook called Scribbles That Matter. Why? Well, some of the better books, can not be had or bought in Sweden or by Swedes, only existing on the other side of the pond. Like a brand called Lemome. I will probably never get my hands on one, so I will not be able to say if it is better than the invention of the wheel. The same goes for some other notebooks. But I will be able to tell you about the brand names that top the list of most used books. And Scribbles That Matter is one of them, Nuuna, another one.

Everything was speaking for an STM, as it is shortened. Only, what I soon was about to discover, was that it is easier said than done, to get hold of one of their notebooks. It is a small company, based in London, UK. And when I discovered it back in the beginning of September, or was it August, they were prioritizing their US buyers and market. The only place, where you can buy their books, is via Amazon and not only did Amazon.com not ship to Sweden, they were also the only Amazon site, which had the full collection of colours.

Now, if you are like me, colour matter. If you are going to buy a nice, expensive notebook, you do want it to have the colour of your choice, since you are going to look at that book A LOT for the next few months. For some, up to a year! And my first disappointment came, when I went in to the Amazon UK site and noticed that the only colours you could have in Europe, were white, canary yellow and cobalt blue. But then on Instagram, they posted, that lovely pastel colours were being ready for sale in a couple of days. My heart started beating faster since pastel colours have a very soft spot, in my heart. Not practical at all of course as a notebook colour, but does one ALWAYS have to think practical. With anticipation, I kept a tab up for Amazon day after day, and the stock never changed! But the yellow book sold out. The cobalt blue book sold out and finally all you could buy from the European platform, were white notebooks and there I draw the line for being unpractical!

I wrote to them and contrary to Leuchtturm, their customer service is great. They actually talk to their customers and listen. To a point. On Facebook a roar went up, since the pastel colours were put up on the US site and the American members of the group started to post their happy packages,  having arrived. Meanwhile, we boiled with frustration in Europe! Week after week went by and I had decided that on the 1st October, I was saying goodbye to my Leuchtturm for good, whether I had been able to get an STM or not. But the date kept creeping closer and closer. And no pastel colours or any other colours came up for sale. Not on Amazon UK, Germany or Italy. Fine said I, I guess I will not be an owner of their notebook after all. Now I really had to hurry and find another option. And that option looked like Nuuna.

Before I go in to that notebook, I want to talk of a book I can not afford myself. The one I would have loved to have ordered at that point. On Etsy, a seller who calls her shop The Citrus Book Bindery, have some notebooks which sound amazing. I have not heard one person speak ill of them, but then they do not come cheap. They are handmade through and through. The owner understands the problem of ghosting and bleed through and has taken that in to account when creating the paper, which has the thickness of 130 grams compared to Leuchtturm’s 80 grams. So you can imagine the difference when you flip a page. We are talking thick paper here. Her initial production was in her own kitchen, trying to get good paper for herself, but also to start a business, since she, an American, had married a British man and had to find something to do in her new country of abode.

With her you choose your style of paper, that is dots, grid or lines, and you choose your colour of cover and binding thread. All in all a handmade product, made to your specifications and needs. All sizes available. But for us, who for one reason or other, do not have a big amount of money to spend on a journal, which might only last for three-four months depending on how much or little we put in to it, this might not at all be an option. It has not been one for me. And I strongly doubt that it will. There comes a point, when one has to accept facts, that the perfect notebook does not exist, and one is forced to lower one’s standards. I have got to that point today, but had not yet reached that point in September.

Back then I thought that the perfect notebook did exist, somewhere out there, but that I had just not looked hard enough. A notebook without any ghosting and bleed throughs. Now I know better, but then I started to look in to Nuuna. Which sounded great from the start. So great, that I sent for it. Nuuna, has 256 pages compared to Leuchtturm1917’s 240. And while Leuchtturm or LT, as I will continue to call it, has 80 gram paper, Nuuna’s is 120 gram thick. 40 grams make a big difference.

Nuuna, is a big brand from Germany, containing Swedish paper, believe it or not. And it is not too difficult to get hold of. Amazon has it, even the little paper and pen shop in Lund, our closest town, has it, which has just happened in the last couple of months. Nuuna has much going for it in my opinion. The paper is thick, which is nice, and it has both numbered pages and the dots sit closer than the LTs, which is good if you, like me, write small. The 5mm between dots in the LT, seems a little bit of a waste. The 3,8 mm is much nicer. But I was not totally happy with my Nuuna and others have pointed out the same complaints as I have.

Like I said in my previous post, I do love vintage. Brown colours, old paper look and so on. And the cream colour of LT was nicer on my eyes, than the stark white, you find in Nuuna. When I have made my pages, it has been difficult to make them look as cozy as I have wanted them to look, because of that white colour.

My three notebooks, showing the different paper colours. At the bottom we have a Scribbles That Matter, next a Leuchtturm1917 and on top, Nuuna.

Because of the thick pages, you do not quite get that comfortable flip through feeling, when you move through your book looking at pages or searching for something. It becomes rather stiff, turning the pages. This made me a little bit unhappy. But, you say, you did want thick paper so that it would not ghost or bleed through. Well, that is the problem. Even though the paper is that thick, you have still not received no ghosting. Because while Nuuna has set up a very nice book, with nice quality paper, the paper is not made for bullet journaling art style either(see previous post on Leuchtturm1917). You are supposed to use pencil, biro and some felt tip pens. Maybe fountain pen as well. It does have bleed through and some ghosting, depending what medium you use, and this because the paper lacks COATING. This is a definite miss on Nuuna’s part! They could conquer the entire bullet journal market if they fixed this problem, but they will not answer to complaint and feedback, just like their cousins, LT. And because of that, they will lose customers, because today’s bullet journaler wants to do more than just take notes, and wants the freedom to use whatever pen, he or she wants to.

What I discovered when I tried to use some of my new funny pens, was that I would have to keep them in my drawer and not use them in my Nuuna. Uni Pin worked great. The page just absorbs the pen and you can erase pencil lines straight after filling in with the felt tip archival ink pen. No smears, like in LT, where you have to wait days for the inks to dry. But when you layer the felt tip pen, say colouring in a Halloween cat, THAT will ghost. I was not prepared for that. After having looked at lots of pages, where people use Zebra Mildliners, a form of pale or pastel highlighter, I decided that I liked it and wanted to try it in my Nuuna as well. I never dared to try them in the LT after seeing how bad it ghosted with regular pens, but Nuuna was surely going to live up to the pressure. Or? I made an October weekly spread, with a bat girl in grey and purple and wanted to match the rest of the week with that image, so I got a lavender mildliner out and a dark grey one. And with the help of a ruler, I drew lines for the day boxes. To my horror, when I turned the page, every single line had bled through. Not just ghosting, but had bled through, rendering the page useless. It gave me knots in my stomach, since Nuuna is not a cheap notebook. It cost more than an LT. I did not want to look at the eyesore, so I glued a stationary sheet on the back of the page, which made the page twice as thick.

Wondering how the next page looked, well it looked the same. All the grey and lilac boxes bled through entirely.

I decided to be more careful in the future, but looked at my three pretty packages of mildliners, wondering what I would use them for now, not being able to use them for their purpose. Then came the next disaster. When people are talking about notebooks on Facebook, then they talk about Tombow brush pens. I used them years ago, in the US, when I used to make my own stationery and cards. But I abandoned them because they are not waterproof and sending cards and letters in the post, with that sort of ”ink”, which might float out, if it is raining when the postman delivers your post, was not to my liking. In October, I started to feel that urge, that many bullet journalers feel after seeing hundreds of posts about an item, and wanted to try Tombow myself. My old ones from the late 1980s had dried up, but the paper shop in Lund, had taken in some colours and happily I bought two orange ones, since I had a weekly planned with funny stamped pumpkins. Happily I set to it, colouring in two of the pumpkins on a left page. Only to sadly discover that my new purchase was a waste. The orange colour ghosted badly on the previous page, ruining a spread I had been rather happy about. So, no mildliners to be used, no Tombows, so forget about learning how to brush letter and using those pens in a Nuuna. Brushlettering being a dream of mine.

Colouring with Tombow Brush pens and what it did to the previous page spread…

So, I had to accept that it was best to keep to a black uni pin all the time and colouring in with Faber Castell Polychromos pencils, after rubber stamping. At this point, I started using the last page of the book as a pen and ink testing page. I wanted no more surprises. And good thing I did. I discovered that Nuuna was like LT. It could not take Versa Fine rubber stamping ink, since it bleeds through on both books. And this creates a problem, because the only ink working 100% with acrylic stamps is, versa fine. All other inks give a blurry image and not crisp lines. And most stamps today, are acrylic since they take up no room. And I am an avid stamper. I love rubber stamps and being able to recreate a favourite image over and over again. But not only can the two books not take versa fine. They can not take Memento, Colorbox, Tim Holtz, as a matter of fact, LT can not take any rubber stamping ink at all, without bleeding or terrible ghosting. Nuuna will take Versa Chalk and if you stamp the image once on a separate paper and then in the Nuuna, it will take Color Philosophy. But this creates a hell if you live in Sweden. The latter has to be sent for, from the UK, and shipping is high. Versa Chalk is a little bit easier to get hold of, but non of the physical shops have it, and sometimes you just want to see the colour before you buy it. The saddest part with this is, that I have tons of shades of colours in the brands, which can not be used.

In November, a month after I started using my Nuuna, and when I had decided that even though Nuuna had not quite lived up to my expectations, I did something I would live to regret. Nuuna comes with soft covers only. It is not a thin cover, but it is soft cover. A cover that is said to be leather but I doubt it very much since it does not smell like it. Since the books are so thick, a hard cover is not really needed to give it stability. But what I noticed on my black Nuuna Voyager size Large, was that the cover got dirty. It attracted finger prints, oil and other dirt and I did not find this attractive. Also, even though my particular model came with what I call a belt, which prevents it from opening accidentally, I did not really use it. It seemed like a great idea at first, since you can attach pens or a mobile to that belt, but it makes it more difficult to get the book out of a full rucksack, if things are attached to the outside of it. I am glad that I did not use my belt, since I have since heard that it will make the covers warp. They can not handle the heat which is created when you put on and take off that belt, the whole time. This did not happen to mine, since I kept the belt off. Also it was so much work to put it on and off, that I hesitated from using the bullet journal when it was on, because it became a chore to take the belt off. And THEN your bullet journal has ceased to fill its purpose!

What I decided to do, was get a protective cover for my bullet journal. It was risky of course, since Nuuna is not standard A5 like all other notebooks tend to be. It is both wider and taller. Getting a cover would lock me in to continuing with Nuuna, no matter what I felt about the notebook. But at this point I felt that, no way, I can not change notebook a second time, after just a month. And there was no other option to Nuuna anyway. STM still had not changed their stock availability! So, I chose a pretty cover in blue. Especially made for me on Etsy, to Nuuna’s strange measurements. The seller telling me that the blue would be Ravenclaw blue, from Harry Potter, and she would do beautiful embossing on it with the Ravenclaw emblem and some quotes I had chosen. I can not describe how excited I was about this. To show publicly what house I belong to!

Till the cover arrived. I unwrapped it in the car, since the postman met me on the parking lot, when I was on the way to fetch my sons. I thought or hoped that the colour was not what it looked like in the car on that grey day. It was not blue though. It was turquoise. So MAJOR disappointment. But that was not the end of it all. When I got inside, I tried to put my Nuuna in it and what happened then can only be described as a disaster. I put the book in to the elastic strings, which it came with, since the covers usually are made for TNs. (Traveller’s Notebook, which will be discussed in a later post) And the elastic strings lost their spring, just like that and became all limp. This usually would happen after months or perhaps years of usage, so I do not understand it. But I thought, I will fix it somehow, tighten them so the book does not fall out. And I was ready to accept the awful colour. But what I could not accept, was the state of my hands. I looked at them and they were covered with turquoise stain. Immediately I ripped the Nuuna out of the cover and threw the cover on a towel, telling everyone to not go near it. Then I started reading about how to get rid of excess colour in leather. All articles assumed that one was asking about gloves and they said to put them in the wash machine. But obviously, you can not put a leather cover in the wash machine!

As you can tell, not at all Ravenclaw blue but a rather ugly turquoise.

When my husband got home, I asked him to hold my cover and look at it. I wanted to see if my hands are strange somehow, because the seller must otherwise be a very dishonest one. She must have noticed how much the leather bled and to pack something like that up and send it all the way from Canada to Sweden, charging an arm and a leg for the cover and the same for the shipping, well that stinks! He took the cover in his hands, looked at all the quotes and then discovered his turquoise hands so he put it down immediately. We decided that I would go in to the cobbler in Lund and ask him, if there was anything I could do. So I headed to Lund the next day with the cover in the towel and in a plastic bag. His response was that people who use that much colour in the leather, are poor crafts men. That their products render themselves useless because there is no way at all to get rid of excess colour. The only thing he could suggest was that I go and purchase a hair spray bottle with silicone in it, and spray the cover with it, to see if I somehow could seal the pores. I did but it has rendered the cover all sticky and strange feeling. And I guess that only an idiot would use it, because as soon as the hair spray wears off, which it will do soon, when you pull the notebook out of your bag repeatedly, you are back to where you were from the start, with a cover staining everything that touches it.

I am afraid that this was a bad set back for me and when the next sad thing happened, in connection with my Nuuna, I started to have second thoughts about that notebook. When we entered December, I started to stamp an advent candle stick on every week spread, colouring in a new candle every week, in order to get the four coloured by Christmas. Now, some of Polychromos pencils smear in all colouring books, like red and black for instance. I coloured the candle stick itself, red, and the red colour kept on smearing every day on the opposite page. So I decided to erase the smears one last time and then spray fixative on the page. Oh, I should NOT have done that! The stamping ink bled through bad time. It was like it burned itself through the paper and on the backside of the page, it ruined the page entirely. The bled through stamped image turned PURPLE! So, I will not recommend using fixative at all in a Nuuna. Disaster!

The advent candle stick which caused the problem in the first place, and the fixative ”burning” through the paper can be seen in the text. There I could not put white out, like I did outside the frame. But the white out got stained, by the next advent candle stick and I learned that you can not erase pencil stain from white out! So that is the red discolouration you see.

By now, Amazon had finally stocked up on Scribbles That Matter, STMs. Not all colours that the Americans could always choose from, but at least the mint green and lavender, I had been dreaming of. At this point I ordered them as a back up, if the Nuuna was just going to drive me bananas. At the same time, my son came home from England, saw my Nuuna and fell in love, so he went and bought himself one. He loves it, but he does not use anything but Polychromos in his and Muji pens. And now and then he stamps letters and numbers with an old light blue stamp pad, which has not got as much ink in it as they usually have. He never takes his outside the house and only documents football matches and scores in it, so more along the lines of what Nuuna planned for it to be used as.

While out Christmas shopping, I realized that my Nuuna was on the brink of being too large for my mini Kånken rucksack. It just fits which makes it difficult to get in and out. Everything has to be taken out, to put the book in, and you have to wiggle to get it out. And what happens then? You feel it is too much of a hassle and you start trying to keep things in your head instead of, in your bullet journal. That combined with wanting less white pages, made me abandon my Nuuna, 1st January 2018, and get my mint green STM out of the closet.

STMs notebooks come with a thick hard cover. But they feel more padded than an LT, which makes them feel cheaper somehow. At the same time, it gives more stability on the side of the book, where you have not written on that many pages yet. I have the funny version with all the icons, that many have objected to, since they feel it is beneath them to carry around something so childish looking. STM customer service listened to them though, and came out with a pro version without the icons. So you can stay a child at heart or you can be an adult in all things.

Scribbles That Matter Icon version

The notebook, comes with an elastic, often in a totally different colour than the book, which some object to as well. I find it fun! And it also comes with a pen holder, which I do not use, since it would just get caught on things when pulling my book out. Besides, which one of all my favourite pens would I put in there? I much rather have all my pens safe in my pencil-case.

The paper is not as dark cream as the LT has. But a nice shade actually, since it is easier on the eye than the Nuuna white. And the thickness is right between the two, with 100 grams. The dots are 5 mm apart, like in the LT, so that is on the negative side in my opinion, but one of those things we just have to live with, if we want one of the main company books. 5 mm between dots, is standard. Another standard size is the A5 for the notebook. For those who wonder about sizes, it is a good size, it is not too small and not too big to carry around and a bullet journal should be transportable. It is also big enough to make a monthly spread in or a weekly one. Depending on of course, how much one wants to squeeze in on a page, when it comes to extras like decorations and boxes for trackers, notes and so on. It is the prefered size and there is a reason for it! Thanks to the padded covers, it is slightly thicker than the LT but has fewer pages. In this notebook you only get 201 pages plus a pen test page, a key page and three index pages.

But if the paper doesn’t ghost, then it is worth it right? Well, it takes a couple of minutes, perhaps more, before felt tip pens dry. But that is an improvement from the LT, which takes much longer. Nuuna absorbs all ink at once, I might add for comparison. I am afraid to say that Scribbles That Matter will also ghost, even though the paper is 100 grams thick and is coated.

When it comes to the ghosting though, it really depends on what pens you are using. IF you are light on your hand, and say only write plain text with a felt tip pen, you ought to get away with no ghosting at all. Now, I am talking about big brand names, like Uni Pin, Micron, Sharpie Art Pen (NOT the alcohol based ones that Americans seem to love). Cheap brands, are not always reliable and really need to be tested before you write with them inside your book. There is a pen test page yes, in the back of Scribbles That Matter, but it seems like that paper is not the same as the rest of the book, so you might need to take the page before the pen page, for serious testing.

As soon as you start doing major art work or say Faux Calligraphy or Modern Calligraphy, you are on your own though, when it comes to ghosting. As soon as you start filling in colour, rather than writing straight up and down letters, the book will start to ghost and now you have to decide how much you will be able to live with/tolerate and what is too much. At this point, I have come to the conclusion, that the perfect book does not exist. ALL books will ghost at some point unless you get yourself an art journal. An art journal is made for water colours, all sorts of paints and pens true artists use, and is made to take the abuse so to speak. It will have VERY thick pages and you will have a difficult time to find such a notebook with dots, grids or lines, since they are not really meant for writing in. But some people will move over to this, when they can not live with any kind of ghosting.

Citrus Book Bindery, which makes notebooks to your specifications (mentioned earlier in this post), which has 130 gram paper in the bullet journal notebooks and even thicker for the art journals, might be the only notebook to consider if you want absolute zero ghosting.

My first page in my new STM turned out a disaster. The Monster of Stationery on Instagram had made a wonderful year at a glance page, and I wanted to make a similar one myself. I assumed that she had coloured her boxes with some sort of pastel highlighter, so I grabbed my Stabilo pastels and set out to create something pretty, like everyone else does with their highlighters. Noone can accuse me of having created a pretty page here:

Sorry, had to mark out the very personal things. But as you can see, it became a right mess with different colour coverage.

In other words, these pens are not as easy to use, as you think, and get a great result with. But the worse part was, when I turned the page back to the index page!

I would go so far as to say, avoid Stabilo highlighters in the STM, because you will get bleed through where you put the pen down and where you lift it from the paper. But that might not be all that you want to avoid:

Next two pages I made, were a monthly spread and I was sad to discover that a few versa chalk ink pads, will ghost pretty bad in the STM. This pink one did, when I stamped the month and all the dates.

Before I leave off the STM comments, I want to show the pen tester page, even though it is not the same kind of paper as the rest of the book. I guess they feel, that the paper will still show the same results:

Now, always remember, that for some reason, you do not write exactly the same on a test page, as you do on a regular page. One word is not enough really, to test a pen.

In my next post, I will return to ghosting quite a bit, when I discuss pens I use and pens I do not dare to use. But, in closing, I would like to say something about the notebooks, I did not buy or consider seriously. I have already, discussed the Citrus Book Bindery above. I did not buy a book from the owner of the company, because I felt that the price was too stiff for a regular notebook. When I say regular, I mean a notebook where you would feel free to put down anything. The more expensive of a book I get, I feel the pressure of not ruining it with scribbles, mistakes and silly things. I would only consider a book like that for serious diary keeping and as I mentioned in my previous post, that is something I am not good at keeping up with. When you buy a notebook, you really do need to consider what you are going to use it for. Some people have pages after pages with trackers. They track water intake, sex life, money-saving and money spent, how often their kitten goes to the toilet, how often their children have temper tantrums, you name it. I think some people have got in to a control freak stage never heard of before. And that demands a lot of pages. Some people even complained in January, after setting up the month, that they had already used one-third of their books or more. IF you are going to have 30-40 pages of trackers and other things EVERY month, there is no point to go for the high-end books. You can’t buy those books every three months, year after year, unless you have a really big income and the majority of us do not.

Another book, which I really would have loved to have purchased, had it been easier and cheaper to send for, is Hippo Noto. If you consider Scribbles That Matters difficult to get hold of, then you have not checked out the Hippo Noto. Unfortunately, not that many people are owners of this book yet, so you can not really get an honest opinion about it. What I can say is, that it is a thick book with 500 pages, but even if it sounds a lot to carry around, it is not, since it contains Tomoe River paper, a thin Japanese paper which carries the same qualities, as say a much heavier paper. I am not going to say Bible paper, because it is not that thin, but when we talk Nuuna 120 grams, Scribbles That Matter 100, Rhodia 90, Leuchtturm 80 and Moleskin 70, Hippo Noto has 68 gram paper,  so you can imagine how thin it is. But it also proves something to people, that ghosting is not ALL about paper weight. It is also about coating. Tomoe River paper is famous for writing on and is used for the ever popular Hobonichis, in Japan. This latter notebook is indeed not a notebook, but a pre-printed calendar which many in the bullet journal society, use for combined calendar/art journal. It has 52 gram paper. Since Hobonichi does not ghost more than LTs 80 gram paper, I would want to say that Hippo Noto is in most probability not ghosting more than any other book, BUT I doubt that it is ghost free.

The thing with Hippo Noto is, that 1. You can only buy it from the official site, so supply and demand is BAD. 2. It takes months for you to get your book since they first take pledges to see how many are interested in the book, and then the printing starts. From what I have heard on Facebook, the last batch had serious problems, so they are far from sticking to schedule. People are anxiously waiting for what they have paid for and writing irate messages on internet,  since there are no up-dates as to what is happening. 3. The book is VERY expensive at $33. And for someone like me, who live in Sweden, the shipping is $32. In other words, the book really costs $65. Those brave souls, who have bought this book, have had it get stuck in customs. And another $42 must therefore be added to the price, if the same happens to you. $107/848 SEK/€86/£76 for a notebook which has basically no reviews yet? For me, this is just too much, even if it has 500 pages and will last forever. My husband asked me ”Do you really want a book that lasts that long?”. I might add: ”Not being able to change if you are unhappy with it?”. And I could also add, what will the book look like when you are half way through? Nearing the end? IF they set up an office in Europe, instead of just offering it from the US, I might consider it. One day. But not now. Not without pictures of ghosting and ordinary people saying what they think about it.

I looked in to two other books as well, namely Rhodia and Lemome. I did not seriously look at Rhodia, since colour options were not that great on Amazon and I like a splash of colour on my notebooks. The fact that it has 90 gram paper also made me hesitant, since that was too close to the hated LT. But if you are in Sweden, you can send for a paper kit from a place called tidformera.se. There you can test the paper in the different notebooks, they carry, which is great to do, before you spend your money. I did not know this, before I bought my Nuuna, for instance. And it could have been helpful, since they carry Rhodia. There ought to be similar things, from the outlets, where you buy notebooks from.

Finally, I want to mention Lemome, which has some funny colours. Unfortunately, Amazon does not ship this notebook to Sweden, which is sad, since many people speak highly of it, on Facebook. Thick paper, no ghosting, which I interpret as some ghosting with certain pens, just like in Scribbles That Matter. I did look in to Lemome seriously from eBay, but when shipping, at the last stage of check out, came up to $43, I said no way. It does not cost a private person $43 to ship a notebook and I do not deal with dishonest sellers who are out there to make dollars on shipping, putting the extra in to their own pockets. There is a limit to what shipping should be allowed to cost and eBay is getting famous for greedy sellers.

Now, some of you will ask, what about Dingbats? This is a notebook I have never considered seriously. As soon as I heard that it had perforated pages, it fell off my wanted list or should I say, list to check out. I do not want pages to fall out in my notebook, and there will always be that risk, when the book is set up to have removable pages.

I seriously hope, that this post has helped someone save some money. I think or fear that we all will do mistakes as far as notebooks go, because what we like, prefer and can tolerate is so very different. What one person recommends, another person will hate. But I have tried to be dead honest in this post and the previous. I do not tolerate ghosting well. I have always hated it, from when I was in school and notes could be seen through the paper, to when I have tried to keep a diary and having had to abandon my beloved Uni Pin pen, because it has rendered the back side of the page, un-usable! The one important thing to consider as a bullet journaler, is to not rush out and buy what everyone else is using. Do the same research you would do before buying a telephone or a laptop. No, a notebook will not cost as either of those two, that is true. And life will go on, even if your choice of notebook, will end up in the bin. But contrary to a mobile phone and a laptop, most of us put a lot of effort in to our notebooks/bullet journals! We pour our heart and soul in to them, we try to create something pretty, and to abandon our hard efforts is more difficult than abandoning an iPhone!

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Bullet Journaling 100: Part 1 ”Why and How to Start”

”What makes you think that you are such an expert?”, might be your first thought, when getting to this very unknown blog. No, I am not an expert. I started bullet journaling the 28 July 2017 and that is not a long time. BUT I am a fast learner. Especially when I make mistakes. And boy have I made a lot of mistakes since I started this journey. But before I go in to what lessons I have learned, which I want to spare you, the reader, from repeating, I want to tell you why I started bullet journaling at all. Perhaps you will recognize yourself?

All my life, I have loved what we in Sweden call ”pyssel”. A friend of mine has a daughter, who used to call our scrapbooking, ”cutting and pasting”. Well, ”pyssel” is that, cutting, pasting, fixing, making, decorating and creating. I am also a note taking person. Scribbles of all sorts. It can be fun sayings in a TV program, information given in a documentary, notes on a book I am reading, recommendations of a book or funny things my children have said. I could go on like this forever.

One of the things I have carried around with me on a daily basis, since I started high school at age 13, has been some form of calendar. In order to keep track of homework. Later on it was keeping track of things at University and nowadays it is to not miss any appointments for my children, meetings, their gym clothes having to be brought and other such things. With three autistic children and being a mother of seven, I can not keep EVERYTHING in my head. To have any sense of control, I need to carry a calendar at all times. The thing which has never worked for me though, is keeping a personal diary. I can not for the life of me, keep writing up my days, every day, every month, every year. I would love to. I admire everyone who gets around to doing this. But I can not limit myself to a couple of words. It has always been my problem. That what ever I write, becomes long. And noone has the energy to write something long, after a difficult day. So you save it for the next day, and the next, and suddenly you are way behind in your diary entries and have a pressure on your shoulders, to catch up. But you never get there.

For years, I have got in to the practice of scribbling down everything on any kind of paper laying about. The problem with that is, that the rest of the family sees an empty envelope and throws it in the paper garbage. They do not notice that I have a nice quote on the back of it, said by my youngest son. Or an important website address. A book written down, which I really want to read.

For years, I have also tried to scribble things in notebooks. There are some really pretty ones out there. For a while, I had a lovely green one with a pretty owl, where I wrote down all websites carrying doll house items. I had gone in to each and every one of them and taken notes on what I would like to order from them, SOME day. A massive job, that took months. And then my daughter with OCD , ”cleaned it away” and it has never been seen since. Who knows where it is? But even more so, how can I locate those addresses again? Everything has been lost and it makes me so upset. My notebook with books to read one day, met with the same fate. Never seen or heard of again. This happens to a lot of my things, in my house.

And then one day, I discovered bullet journaling. And that is the journey I started on the 28th July 2017. Finally I had found a place and a system, where I could keep all my precious records in one place. A book I carry with me at all times, which can not be cleaned away and that everyone in the household know, is sacred.  A no touch zone.

Since then, I have learned a lot and I want to share what I have learned in a series of posts. I am not going to weigh you the reader down too much, in this very first post, which I have called bullet journaling 100, since I have heard that someone else has written one, with the name 101.

One of the very first things I did, AFTER purchasing my notebook, which would become my bullet journal, was to go to the internet and google bullet journal. What a nightmare! You get thousands of posts basically. There is Pinterest, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, you name it. And blogs dedicated to the subject. I decided to look at Ryder Carroll’s video on YouTube, since that is what they recommended at the craft shop, where I bought my notebook. My thoughts after watching it? Ryder Carroll is a man with a very busy schedule, a working man, who lives a completely different life than I do. The perfectionist in me objected to everything about his bullet journal, from his handwriting to his ”messy” idea of moving tasks not performed, to another page or day. His key with different symbols, did not at all feel right for me and I knew that it would take me forever to re-think the way I keep track of what I need to do and so on. That has never really been the problem for me. But it was a good video to watch, to get the bigger concept explained.

Next, I read a funny article by someone who is a mother, who stated that we should not dress the bullet journal for the Oscar’s. Well, I will admit that I try to do this every week. Not intentionally, but because of who I am. She said something I keep at the back of my head though, which is working as a very bad conscience. ”You must be able to write something in it, when your child has pooped on the living room floor and when your parents-in-law are suddenly standing there as well, in the door, for a surprise visit.”. I probably did not quote her perfectly, but what she tried to say was that the bullet journal is not functional when you can only write in it with your best pen, with your best handwriting, using lots of washi tapes and other decorations. It is meant to be functional. But then, the book is yours, and you must do with it, as you please. And I fall in to the category of people, who will not use my worse handwriting in my bullet journal, since I would never be able to live with that the next day, and the next, having to look at the eye sore.

What I did next, was starting to pin things on Pinterest. I saw so many beautiful spreads that I started to feel overwhelmed and not knowing where to start. Yes, you can get overwhelmed by watching what others have accomplished and feel the panic grow inside of you. Because how can you be happy with the not so perfect pages you create, when you know what it was you wanted it to look like?

Here in lies the danger with Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook groups like Bullet Journal Junkies. You can actually get stuck there. You can get stuck watching what everyone else does, and not do anything yourself. I have caught myself, having spent hours on Pinterest, which was not my intention. Or hours on Facebook, because the group mentioned above, has thousands of members and they post hundreds of posts every day, so your feed is full of things you do not want to see, nor have the time to look at. My advice is, try to avoid those places as much as you can. Do your own thing and only go there, when you are stuck. I will get back to what you will need for your bullet journal, in later posts, but I would like to discuss a topic here, which comes up daily in Bullet Journal Junkies, Bullet Journal Sverige and probably all sorts of other groups, which I do not belong to.

The question, which I wish people in the groups would search for, instead of asking, since the answers are given every single day, is a combined one: When do I start my bullet journal and which notebook should I use? The point with having a bullet journal is, that it is not a shop bought calendar starting with 1st January. It is a plain notebook which is full of possibilities. You can do whatever you want with it, make it in to whatever you want and NEED! So the answer is always the same: Start as soon as you have that notebook in your hand. Whether it is the 1st February or 16th June.

The other part of the question is more complicated. I have seen people answer, that it is enough to have a notepad and a pen. Yes, in theory that is enough, but practically, that is insane. That assumes that you will keep it at home and much good your bullet journal do you at a meeting with the headmaster, when your notes and questions are sitting at home, on your kitchen table. Because a notepad is not very convenient to carry around. But, you are always going to come back to the question, ”What do I need in my life?”. If you have no need to carry your bullet journal around, then a notepad can suffice. What I want to warn everyone about, who contemplates this cheap alternative is, what will you do with your notepad once it is finished? Or when the pages start falling out? There might be pages you want to save. Because they contain important information. Or for posterity. Because, for most of us, the bullet journal becomes a record of who we are, right here and now. It is in a way, better than a diary, since we might not bring up the obvious in such, but our bullet journal CAN tell us and posterity a lot about us as persons. And for many, this has become a very positive side effect, of bullet journaling.

Also, when you start on a notepad, to get the hang of things, you might regret not having all those pages in your ”real” bullet journal later. To glue in loose sheets in a notebook is never a good idea, whatever some people say. A notebook which can not be closed, because it looks like a V, is not easy to work with nor to carry around. There is no reason to start on a notepad in order to perfect things. You can do that in the notebook which will become your bullet journal! You do not have to be perfect from page one, in it. For the most part, you are the only person who is going to look in it anyway.

So, what notebook does one buy. The million dollar question. I had never heard of the concept bullet journaling before 28th July 2017, but then I live a very isolated life as a stay-at-home-mum, and in Sweden, far away from the gigantic craft stores in America. I discovered the concept at Panduro. The only physical craft shop available to most Swedes. They are over-priced, have a lot of low quality items, since they insist on preferring their own brand, instead of the well-known brands people desire. But when it comes to bullet journal notebooks, they have taken in a well-known brand, which I suspect has been around since 1917. Leuchtturm. The name makes me break out in hives nowadays. My husband and I stood there that day and admired all the colours and the concept of bullet journaling, shown on some very artistic pictures. My first thought was: ”No, I do not need that since I have my Filofax!” but the more I walked around, ideas popped up in my head as to what I could use it for, more than just using it for calendar. My husband walked out with an A6 blue coloured one, that day, and I bought myself the petrol coloured one, in size A5.

I went home, as said above, and spent hours on internet, while my fingers itched to get started. I decided to start with a book page. One which gave room to add books read during the year. A pretty picture with a book-case full of un-named books, plants etc. I used my very favourite pen: Uni Pin nib size 0,1. When I was finished, I turned the page to do something else on that page, and to my horror, I noticed that I could see every line from the previous page on what should have been a new clean page to work with. THIS is called GHOSTING. Now, some people say that this is charming, that it means that your book is loved and so on. I only have one sentence to say about it: I HATE IT. Because to me, it means that I have just been robbed of the freedom what to put on the new page. Whatever I create on that page, will be mixed with what is on the previous page.

I kept on going,  but had this sad feeling about my bullet journal from then on. This was something that I wanted to make pretty, but also useful of course. But Leuchtturm took all the happiness away from me, since I felt that my pretty page creations got ruined as soon as I filled in the back side. I started to look up what other people were saying. Most people feel as I did, they worry about the money having been paid for the notebook, but they also feel very, very unhappy about the state of the paper, in it. Some have even gone so far as to complain to the company, but the company is so big, that they do not have to pay attention at all, to unsatisfied customers. That is bad and should make you think whether you really want to support such a business. One who does not even consider feedback and what customers want.

But then, in their defence, they have not lost any money at all, if everyone starts with a Leuchtturm1917, since that is what most people buy after watching Ryder Carroll’s video! That is what he uses. And I doubt that ghosting bothers Ryder, because he does not make his pages pretty in any way. He has his bullet journal for one purpose only and that is for function. Leuchtturm created their notebook for notes only. They are in reality only aiming for the note taker and the ones who bullet journal like Ryder. To change, they would have to put a considerable amount of money in to changing their paper quality and thickness, and there is absolutely no incentive for them to do so!

How did I solve my ghosting and bleed through problem? When I started to bring my rubber stamps and inks in to the equation, it soon became apparent that I could not continue with this notebook. With the stamping inks, something else ghastly occurred called BLEED THROUGH. It made it impossible to work with a page which had a stamped ”front” page. I had to glue that page to the next, to not have to look at the abomination. This of course made the pages thick and difficult to flip through, when searching for information and to be frank, I felt fed up. So I started to do what I should have done from the beginning. Research on notebooks.

Some people will be honest in their opinions and will tell you exactly how bad a notebook is, others do not want to be alone in their misery. They wasted money on a notebook which turned out to be bad, so why should not others. And then there is the point of people using different pens, with different results in the notebooks, different pressure when they write and draw, not to speak of colouring. And there is a difference in tolerance of ghosting and bleeding.My tolerance for those two is basically zero. And I will tell you exactly how I feel about the few books I have tested. I will also tell you what pens I have tested, so that you get a sense of what adjustements you might have to make, to use different books. Like choosing away certain inks and pens.

Who is the typical bullet journaler? It is a person who already was a hoarder of stationary products and pens. Bullet journaling has opened up a reason to use the stash and also add-on to it. It totally makes sense that we want to use everything or as much as possible of the stash we already own. And through internet, we get tempted to add on to it, with all new things created especially for a fun experience of bullet journaling. But the notebooks have not really kept up with the development. Most of them are for simple note taking, with a pencil or biro. Leuchtturm paper even ghosts pencil and then it is bad!

In my next post, I will discuss my findings on notebooks, so that this post does not become too long for you to plow through. But I can already divulge that on page 54, I said a permanent goodbye to my Leuchtturm. I will never go near the brand again, unless they change their paper. It was a lot of money, an expensive lesson to learn, but the way I am, I just could not go on using it. You are not supposed to sit and be upset about your calendar for heaven’s sake! It is supposed to help you, not bring on depression.

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My Friday Book: “Today will be different”

imageI think that most of us, are not always proud of what we say and do. Most of us have that little voice inside us, telling us that “that was a bad thing to say” or “that was a really bad thing you just did”. And most of us, vow to never do it again or watch out next time. That is why the title of this book was an attractive one and I thought that I would feel a recognition factor, reading this book. That it would give comfort and hope for the future. And a couple of hours of relaxation and laughter. At least the guest in a program on TV, promised this.

But this is not a funny book at all. I did not laugh once and there is nothing wrong with me. I have a good sense of humour, but nothing in this book was mildly amusing. Nor was there a recognition feeling to be had, in the storyline, because a person like this does not exist. Or if she does, she needs serious help.

Eleanor Flood, will be 50 in May, but this day, that the book is all about, takes place in the autumn before this event. Eleanor has been married for 20 years to Joe Wallace, a very successful hand surgeon and they have an eight year old son, together by the name of Timby.

The first thing which jumps at you from the first pages, is that Eleanor is the most self-absorbed mother, who places her son in the care of the make-up department in a store, so that she can go off and do her own things. And this has been followed up by her giving him a make up box of his own, for Christmas. Only after this, does she question if this was a smart thing to do and wonder if she has turned her son in to a transvestite. She might think that she is a caring mother, but most of the problems her son has, stem from her actions!

Her relationship with her husband, might at first glance seem to be a good one. But then when one reads that he has to order her to make breakfast for him and their son, without putting on a frown on her face, one realizes that first appearance is deceiving. He declares that it is the least she can do, when he supports her and she is home all day. Macho pig? Not at all. Joe has the patience of a saint and a real man, not a fictional one in other words, would have left her a long time ago. Because he is only there to compliment her ego. Like an accessory. The more you read in the book, you feel sorry for him and you also wonder why he has not walked out. But in the end, you do get worried that he actually will and what will become of Eleanor then?

On this day, Eleanor has decided to be nice to everyone and not think about herself. She is even going to have sex with Joe which for her is unnatural after going through menopause. She is of the opinion that nature knows that woman has done what she is supposed to do by then, and therefore there is no more need for sex. But she has decided to sacrifice herself to keep him happy. Her “words”, not mine.

So, the two men in her life, leaves for school and work and she goes off to do what she likes to do. Pamper herself. She was one of those women who loved her career and waited till she was 41 to have a child. Because of pregnancy, she lost her brain, according to her. Everything about late pregnancy, like getting a flobby stomach, chubby everything, but most of all, the part about memory, is bothering  her the most. Now, this book was written by a woman. I have no idea how old she is and if she has gone through pregnancy herself. I had my first child at 24 and after a week, I looked the way I did, before pregnancy. For the most part, women do bounce back quickly after their first baby, unless they binge on candy, cookies and other fatty things. They even bounce back after a second child with minding what they eat. It is not until child three, you start having a little bit more problems with losing the weight fast. And if you have a C-section, that will effect your looks in later years. I had my final live birth, at age 43, and even if I did not bounce back in a week, a year later I was skinny again. Without exercise. Running after children was enough. In other words, I had had seven children by then, so why did Eleanor not bounce back at all and lose her brain capacity on a permanent basis? This is not funny. I can’t laugh at it.

Eleanor has decided to do something about her brain fog though. She has hired a poet who will choose a poem for her to learn by heart. Every week, she goes to see him at a restaurant, where she recites the poem, discuss the poem, pays him $50 for the trouble plus pays for the breakfast they both eat. So, this morning she goes to meet Alonzo. While at the restaurant, she remembers that she is having lunch with Sydney Madsen, a woman she hates, but who calls herself Eleanor’s friend. So she has the restaurant put together an expensive gift basket.

Ten years earlier, her husband decided that he did not want his child to grow up in NYC where they lived, so they decided that for the next ten years they would live in Seattle, then ten years in a place of her choice, ten years after that in his hometown and then ten years in her hometown. Since she had Timby eight years earlier, the author’s math does not add up. But let us forget that. When Eleanor joined her husband in Seattle he took her to a party to meet all the hob knobs of Seattle. Sydney Madsen was one of them and she bored Eleanor to death with her slow speech and boring life, but Eleanor kept her mask on and readily agreed to luncheons and everything else best friends get up to. Hating the woman.  Today, she is going to be nice to Sydney.

In the middle of the breakfast, she gets a phone call from the Catholic school Timby attends. Even though her Catholic raised husband has turned atheist decades earlier! How does that make any sense, to place your child there then? We never get an answer. Timby is having a stomach ache and can she come and fetch him. Instead of paying the poet and the restaurant, she just leaves and takes the gift basket with her, unpaid for as well. And when she gets to the school, she is in a fury since this is the third time, she has to fetch him for the same ailment. He thinks he will have a nice day off, but instead she decides to punish him and takes him to the ER. But not before she has stolen another mother’s keys, because she hates the way the parents so happily volunteers for things at the school and because she doesn’t like the keys!

At the hospital, the doctor gets Timby to tell him what is really the matter. He has been bullied by this new girl and the latest thing was about him wearing clothes from h&m and that they use child labourers. Now, being Swedish and being drowned by h&m clothes, since that is all I can afford, I know that h&m does everything they can for the environment and to fight injustices when it comes to child labour and abuse of women’s rights etc. So this was NOT something believable backed up by facts. What is it the moron in the White House says? FAKE NEWS!

The doctor tells Eleanor to take a day with her son, but she decides to dump him on his dad instead. Walking in to his surgery, it is empty and the staff all look surprised to see her, asking her if they are back. Back from where? Well, according to Joe, they were going on holiday. Eleanor realizes that for a week, Joe has gone off to work but has indeed not. She draws the conclusion that he has a mistress and is leaving her.

Instead of spending time with her son, she now abandons him at Gap, to try on clothes for himself. While she heads to a bookshop, to buy the newspaper they subscribe to.  She had seen Joe read it in the morning. He had shown distress about something in it, so she wants to find out what, since she had not bothered asking him about it, only thinking about herself as usual. When she gets back to Timby the first time, he has on trousers too small for his fat body, which she thinks is cute. The second time around, he is at the cash register with an enormous pile of clothes, asking the cashier to move faster so that his mother can not stop the purchase. Eleanor arrives only to pay for it all. As a mother, who has lived for a few years in the US in the past, I know that you do not leave an eight your old on their own. That will bring kidnappers and police, if not social services. And you do not let a child go in and choose an enormous pile of clothes in any store, let alone Gap. But Eleanor do buy haute couture from Belgium and France herself, so they are not paupers. On the other hand, what is the point with buying that, when she has a chubby body? And to let a fat 8-year-old choose his clothes? Seriously weird. And not believable.

On their way out of the shop, she asks Timby to read in her calendar, who she is having lunch with. Spencer Martell. Only she has been leaving messages to Sydney Madsen all morning, that she can not come to lunch, that she can, that she can not … Now she goes to have lunch with a mystery man, bringing her son. Spencer it turns out, is a man she has all forgotten about but he has not forgotten her. Eleanor’s big thing in life, has been her work on a cartoon named Looper wash. And for the life of me, after suffering through 337 pages, I can not tell what that cartoon was about. But Eleanor had an entire illustrator team backing her up and Spencer was hired to be part of that team as well, till it showed that he was useless and he was fired. Since then life had gone first down hill for him and now he is a celebrated artist whom pre-occupied-with-herself Eleanor has never heard of. After lunch, she brings Spencer to her flat for him to entertain Timby, while she checks up on some things, like where her husband’s new telescope is pointed. When Spencer can no longer stay with them, he brings her and Timby to his outdoor exhibition in the park where Eleanor usually goes with their dog Yo-Yo. They have brought the dog with them.

That is when she sees her poet Alonzo dressed more casual than she is used to seeing him. She abandons Timby, Spencer and his colleagues, and runs after Alonzo to a Cosco. There she discovers the real Alonzo. Far from being the romantic poet living on nothing but her good will, he works at Cosco selling promotional items that noone wants, like this day selling disgusting tasting fish. Eleanor takes a couple of packages, to show him she is alright with all this, but then dumps the frozen fish in a container with T-shirts. And she leaves. But she is not done with Alonzo yet, since he walks out of Cosco as well and she finds him heart-broken in an alley. He did not want anyone to know what his real job was. Now, he has quit even though Cosco’s health insurance is paying for his wife’s IVF. She does everything to try to convince him to go back, but without avail. And he reminds her of all the money he lost that morning when she stranded him with the restaurant bill and the gift basket bill.

Her stupidity does not stop here though. She spots a yacht in the harbour, which her husband’s telescope was pointed at, so she decides to head over there and catch him in flagrante with his mistress. Only when she arrives, the yacht turns out to be a fishing boat. That is when she receives a phone call. From her publisher, who wants to know what to do with the first part of her manuscript, which was turned in eight years earlier. She never gave them the rest, and now they are no longer interested in her book and her agent has been fired. She says that she has FORGOT to finish it! No functioning human being would forget such a thing! The next thing she does is throwing away her mobile phone in a bucket of bait, standing near-by, and storming off to fetch her son by the art installation. But she walks in to it and passes out.

From then on, the story turns even more unbelievable and bizarre. We are moved back in time, to when her mother died in cancer and she basically came in charge of her five-year-old sister, only being nine herself. Their dad moved them to Aspen, Colorado, where he became the caretaker of an elderly lady’s property but for the most part he went off gambling in Las Vegas, leaving his daughters to fend for themselves and when not gambling, he was drinking. The girls grew very tight, even though they lived separate lives. Ivy being beautiful and supporting herself as a model and Eleanor with her illustrating career.

When Eleanor was working on her cartoon, one of the co-workers made the staff acquainted with a friend of his. Bucky or Barnaby Fanning. Friend? Can anyone be friends with a total psycho? Bucky coming from a fancy plantation family, is used to getting everything he wants. When a girl had the audacity to turn his proposal down, he became anti women and dedicated his time to the New Orleans Khaos and Mardi Gras. Every week, Lester, the illustrator, phones him to find out the latest news from the rich and famous. But Bucky is weird, because he is finicky with whom he associates with. If you rub him the wrong way, his hatred is beyond measure. Through Lester, Bucky ends up at Eleanor’s 30th Birthday party and that night her sister Ivy flies to New Orleans with Bucky, having promised to marry him. Eleanor and Joe, heads to New Orleans for the engagement party and this is where Eleanor breeches etiquette by 1. coming under-dressed, in a short dress, while all the other women are wearing long inherited dresses 2. when the maid is busy wiping up something from the floor and people demand ice-cream with their dessert, she thinks she is helping, by putting out the ice-cream box on the table. The next day, Ivy informs Eleanor that she has offended Bucky so badly that they basically can not have any contact. She has shamed him since the photo in the newspaper shows the ice-cream on the table that should have been put in a fancy container, meant for the purpose. This is what Bucky is like!

From then on Bucky sees Eleanor like the worse enemy. The wedding takes place in the former president John Tyler’s home, an ancestor of Eleanor’s and Ivy’s, and when Eleanor refuses to give the couple the two pistols she has inherited from their mother, having belonged to John Tyler, both Ivy and Bucky are boiling with indignation. Instead Eleanor gives them a privately bound book with illustrations from her’s and Ivy’s life. A gift the couple does not appreciate. A year later, John Tyler is born and Eleanor gives the couple the pistols for a christening gift, since this time she does feel obliged to. But it does not buy her forgiveness. Ivy cuts her out of her life, but does show up to their dad’s funeral three years later. Dressed like an “ultra-orthodox Jewess” in skirt and shirt which cover everything and with a strange hairdo. She has become a pill-addict and tells them that Bucky watches every step she takes, being completely paranoid and jealous beyond measure. It is decided that Eleanor is going to help her escape the marriage.

When he is on a trip, Ivy will fly to Seattle with John Tyler and Eleanor has signed a lease on a house for her. Paying everything herself. She has also hired the best divorce lawyer. Only, when she goes to the airport, Bucky walks out with his wife and son. They throw the book they received for wedding present, in her face and cut her out of their lives permanently. Some years later, Eleanor sees a funeral announcement, for Bucky’s grandmother, and notices that her sister has had a girl named Delphine. The name which hung on building blocks, on the key ring which Eleanor stole that morning.

When Eleanor comes to, in front of the art installation she has run in to, everyone expects her to stay and wait for the ambulance, but Timby thinks it is too embarrassing, so she leaves with her concussion. He has found the stolen keys, so they run back to the school to return them to their owner, but Eleanor thinks that this is too embarrassing, so she puts them in a donation box instead. From there she drives home where she finds Sydney Madsen waiting for her, who has been confused about the phone messages.

Instead of going with Sydney to the hospital, Eleanor takes her husband’s car and drives off to see where his GPS will take her. She is determined to find his mistress. Only when she gets to the location, with Alonzo, whom she has picked up on the way, it is a building for sex addicts. The equivalent to AA. One person tells her where her husband is and she runs off to the city center where the Key Arena is. She finds her husband with a group of people who are going to sing in a choir for the soon visiting Pope. This is the dress rehearsal. Right then and there, her husband says that he has seen the light. While taking care of members of a baseball team, he flipped out, and this preacher told him what was wrong with his life. Now he has found Christ, is going to quit medicine and go back to school and study Christ’s teachings instead. Eleanor goes bananas. She storms up on the stage, and a guard dog attacks her so badly that her arm gets chewed up and she also falls off stage, hurting herself. Once in the hospital, her husband says that they must move to Spokane or New York or St. Andrew’s in Scotland for his religious studies. If she wants to stay married to him, she just have to tag along. It is decided that they will move to Scotland, because Timby wants that. The boy who was named by iPhone. (Eleanor having sent the suggestion Timothy to Joe, when pregnant, and the auto-correct having changed it to Timby.)

As they arrive home, Eleanor remembers that Yo-Yo was abandoned at Cosco, so Joe has to go fetch the dog, who has been tied up there more or less the entire afternoon and evening.

I have told the entire story, so that noone else will have to suffer through this book. I would never have finished it, had it not been that I reserved it at the library and thereby had to pay reservation fee. It was one of the worse books I have ever read! And while others recommend this author, I am not going to bother with any other of her books. Escapism is one thing, but I want stories to make sense and be somewhat believable. And yes, I do believe that LOTR and Narnia etc. are believable in their own way. But this, no.

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“This was the best Birthday ever!”…

were the words my autistic youngest son “Gubby” said, right before going to bed last night. If he only knew how happy it made me to hear those words, because the planning has gone on for weeks. Like my husband coming home one day from work asking me, “What are you doing on the 3rd September at 10:30?”. – Well, I should be sitting in the car driving off to church, if everyone get out of the house when they ought to. “How would you like to take ‘Gubby’ to the cinema then?”. To be honest, I thought he had completely lost his marbles at this point. Go to the cinema when we are supposed to be in Church? But then he explained. A couple of years ago, this supermarket chain launched a new club for children, called the paprika club. You get a little magazine. Sometimes there are little competitions in the supermarket. But most of all, it has been started to get children to eat more fruit and vegetables. Every day, there is a little testing bowl in the supermarket where the children can take an offered fruit, for free!

When “Big Hero 6” came out in the cinema, or was about to, the local supermarket’s paprika club, hired the entire cinema one day, and let all members go and see the film for free! We all went! Since our boys have autism and one of them also ADHD, we were allowed to have two adults going with, instead of one. And when E. arrived to tell us that her classmates had stood her up, not wanting to do their assignment that day, the staff told her to stay and see the film. They treated us all to popcorn, juice and the children got candy bags. This year, they decided to charge 40 :- for each person, but that is nothing to the regular price for a cinema ticket! T. said something about 150:-? Anyway, the day the paprika club had decided to rent the cinema to show “Cars 3” was the 3rd September at 10:30. We thought about it for two weeks, not feeling too comfortable going on a Sunday, but then we realized that it would make “Gubby” sooooooo happy! We decided to keep it an utmost secret though.

Yesterday morning, he woke up at 07:30 and asked me “Where are my gifts?”. I had to explain that he had to get them that afternoon, since I had not got one of them wrapped yet and everybody else was asleep. At 08:00 I got up to take head ache medicine and F. was up. She was so upset, since she had me send for a Birthday present for him and it did not arrive on time. She wanted to give him something Harry Potter and we decided that a hat could be fun. We looked on eBay since they are faster than Wish. We avoided all Chinese sellers since we suspected that it would not arrive on time if we chose one of them. So we bought from England. We thought. But after ordering, which has to be done on my mobile since my iPad just freezes, I went in on the iPad to check the seller’s reviews and noticed one negative comment mentioning that they lie when they say they are in the UK. They are in China! We felt cheated and upset but hoped for the best, since it had three weeks to travel. But it did not arrive! So instead, she had T. buy a donut with festive sprinkles on it, Saturday, and she told “Gubby” that it was her Saturday candy. Instead of a gift, she got up at 08:00 and boiled him an egg, set a tray with egg, bread and the donut on it and then invited him to the kitchen.

When T. got up, he showed me what he had picked for “Gubby” to wear. Only, that was “Gubby’s” Lightning McQueen PYJAMAS! I told him that my son is not going to the cinema in his pyjamas. T. thought it would not matter but “Gubby” knows that it is his pyjamas and will not go to church in that! He will say so! He objected enough to wearing his sports’ clothes! For years, I have bought these Asian outfits at Sjöbo’s fair, that are of a shiny material, which does not have to be ironed. They are perfect for gym class because of it. And they are bright, colourful and have fun prints on them. This year I bought a pair with Lightning McQueen and Mater on them. Shorts and top identical. But he knows that those are meant for gym class so he said “Going to church in gym clothes!”. I had to explain that they are not really gym clothes, that mamma just likes to use them for that, so I do not have to iron and when one has a Birthday, one can be dressed differently than regular Sundays. He did not object further but got dressed and we drove off.

When we got to the bend in the road, all autistic boys asked why we took another road than the usual one and I answered that “we just have to do something first”. When we got to Lund, “Boo” said, “this is not the road to the church”. When I parked, “Gubby” and “Boo” wondered why, so I said “We just have to go look at something first and then we go to church!”. They did not understand a thing when we got to the cinema. But “Boo” went and fetched popcorn and “Kitty” whispered “are we going to see a film?”. I nodded my head and made “Gubby” go to the loo, eventhough he did not want to. But of course needed to. When we sat down, he still did not have a clue what we were going to watch. But he was excited when he realized!

The Paprika Club at the cinema! “Gubby” ran up and hugged them as soon as he got in through the door!

What can I say about the film? I thought it was good but it was very depressing. I had to explain once to F., once to “Kitty” and once to “Boo” why “Lightning McQueen” had to quit racing. The entire film is about Lightning McQueen having to accept facts, that in sports, you can never remain on top forever. No matter how much go you have in you, how much you still love to compete and how young you feel still, there comes a day, when you have to move on. I told them about Swedish slalom star Ingemar Stenmark, who made all of Sweden stand still when he competed. We would be on our way to have a test in school and instead the teacher wheeled in a TV, so we could watch the competition. I could care less if he won or not. I was never interested. But it gave me an opportunity to review for the test once more. He won gold medal after gold medal, year after year. And then he started getting “old” in sport’s years. Instead of being praised to the sky, we all felt embarrassed. That he had not quit when he was the best. That he just continued even though he did worse and worse. That he did not accept facts and quit while he was ahead but instead ended up in 10th place, 15th, 20th… There was something pathetic about it and desperate!

The children were upset though, because everyone told McQueen that he was old. I reminded them how quickly a computer is considered old. That no, in years he was not old, but his motor could just not drive as fast as the rookies. No matter what, he could not get up to their speed. That is why the rookies laughed at him. And that speed was everything. He knew all the tricks in the book, to win, but lacked the speed. Question of course is, why they did not just put in a new motor. At the end though, his new trainer Cruz Ramirez, a girl car who always dreamed of being a race car, takes his place in a race wich he has started in and she wins it for them both. He goes on to be her trainer instead and accepts that this can be fun too. The film had fun moments but nothing to laugh out loud about, like my husband did! As a matter of fact, he was the only one laughing out loud so I was happy sitting far away from him! One could tell from the film though, that this will be the last film of “Cars”. They really pressed the final blood out of the stone. I will say, that “Cars 2” was the best of the three.

As soon as the film was over, we left for church where we could attend the last hour. At the end, when they had the conclusion for the children, everyone sang to “Gubby” and he was delighted, standing there proudly in his Lightning McQueen outfit. To be honest, I do not think he understood what half of the film was about. It was too complex of a topic for him. How can anyone say that a car is old and useless when the car is red and shiny, driving super fast?

When we got home, big sister E. was still not back from the child blessing she had gone to in Malmö. The baby being that of her former employers in Basingstoke, England. We were starving and had no interest in waiting up for her, so we had dinner and then we sang to “Gubby”, giving him his presents finally. He loved everything he received! I had finally settled on a Junior Lego set with Luigi and Guido, from “Cars”, a pencil-case with emojis, a jubilee set of Thomas the Tank Engine, and finally an insane toy called Stretch Armstrong. All of the things wished for by him, but especially the last toy, which I think is a crazy item. A grotesque stress ball in the shape of a naked man! As a toy I think it is pointless BUT I think that an autistic child can actually get a lot out of it. Touching, pulling, relaxing with it…

“Boo” so much wanted to give his brother something, but had no money. Then he usually looks around the house and finds something to give. In this case, he ended up giving “Gubby” an old skateboard for a smaller child, that he found at the city dump. Dirty and wobbly. F. took one look at it and said she did not want it in our clean living room. Having OCD, she just gets like that. He exploded and stormed upstairs screaming. And I had to explain to her that by doing what she did, she offended him saying that his gift was not good enough and that his heart was in the right place, that it is not easy to give, when you have no money. I decided to grab one of the Christmas presents I had bought for “Gubby” and let “Boo” give him that instead. So upstairs I went and told him that “Gubby” is too young for a skateboard, that he is too scared to go on one and that he could give him a troll instead. “Gubby” loves the film “Trolls” and especially the troll “Guy Diamond”, for some reason. I found one when looking for Birthday presents and decided to give it for Christmas, having the shop wrap it in Christmas paper. “Boo” took the present, walked down and gave it to “Gubby” and he said happily, “Oh, I love the paper!”. Father Christmas all over it! He did not even think about it being Christmas paper! And it being the wrong season. He got really happy about his troll and we put him for decoration on the “ostglass”, since I had forgotten to buy a marzipan rose!

Ostglass- or homemade ice cream cake

We sang again, had cookies and the ice-cream cake and then it was time for the film he really wanted to see. When we got to France in July, they were showing “Gnomeo and Juliet” on French TV, dubbed in to French of course. We all sat down and watched what was the last 20 minutes of it and the boys regretted not getting to see the entire thing. None of them saying that they had not understood a single word! Anyhow, I managed to find the film to order it and when it arrived, “Gubby” said he wanted to watch it on his Birthday. I asked him if he was sure. I could offer “Vaiana”, “Beauty & the Beast” and something about storks. But he wanted to watch “Gnomeo…” so that is the film we watched last night and it really is a cute one. And more over, it does have a happy ending, because the couple does not die at the end! And the one garden gnome who did die, got glued together again! After the film, which is a garden take on Romeo and Giulietta, I sat down to watch the extras, where it showed that the film was made by Elton John, who wrote the music. Handsome James McAvoy does Gnomeo’s voice, his mother’s voice is done by Dame Maggie Smith (YES! My favourite actress!!!!) and Juliet’s father’s voice, is done by Sir Michael Caine. So my husband had no reason to huff and puff at all nor taking a nap, like he did in the middle of the film. He did not wake up until E. walked in, while the Capulets and Montagues or should I say the Reds and the Blues, fought like maniacs!

(Storyline is that two neighbours living in attached 1930s houses, hate each other. Hers is with blue decorations and she has class, while he has red decorations and his are somewhat tacky. One gnome has one of those horrid bathing suits for men which is just a string in the back and only holds the private part in the front! When the owners go off to work, the garden decorations come to life. They compete in the alleyway with the lawn mowers but also take care of everything in the gardens. One day, when the blues are out to get revenge, Gnomeo notices the beautiful but protected Juliet, high up on a garden tower and his heart is no longer in the mood for hurting red gnomes! Instead they date in an adjacent abandoned garden. When they are discovered, Juliet’s father glues her in place, so she can not go see Gnomeo. And Gnomeo has an accident, which makes everyone believe he is dead. To get revenge, the blue gnomes, order a gigantic lawnmower called the terraferminator, not adviced for personal small gardens. The lawnmower arrives and is started by the blues. Soon, both gardens are completely ruined and all the gnomes now believe that Juliet is also dead, since the lawn mower took down the tower. But out of the crash site, climbs Gnomeo and Juliet, holding hands. Happy ending, even for the garden plastic flamingo, who was single. They order a female flamingo for him! You can’t find a cuter film!)

E. never joined the party in other words. She just sat out doing her own things in the kitchen. But “Gubby” was so hyped that he did not even notice the slight. I am glad, because her behaviour since she got back from England has been appalling. When it was time to go to bed, he was still all happy. I asked him which was his favourite gift and he counted them all up, which was nice to hear. It is sooooo difficult to buy presents for autistic children! They do not really play with toys! And they often have a very short attention span.

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