[I’ve Got 5 On It] Wonderful Ways to Elevate your Writing Game

Raise your hand if you’ve tried at least one new craft or hobby during the last year in quarantine? It’s not like it was a prerequisite for lockdown, but on a personal level – my creative edge was one of the few things that kept me sane during those weeks, then months, that we were barely leaving our homes. Thanks to a supportive family and parents that were always cultivating my curiosity – crafts have been a large part of my life for as long as I can remember. Whether it was making glycerin soaps and essential oil blends when I was in Elementary School, or having my birthday parties at the local Bead Shop – I’ve been able to dip, dabble and discover innovative ways to explore both the world, all the while embracing and enhancing my mental health.

What does creativity have to do with mental dexterity? Well, in my humble opinion – everything! The more creative we can be with the tools in front of us, the more inventive and original we become when discovering and dealing with the tools inside of us. As it turns out – the art and act of creativity is good for the mind, body and soul: enhancing our mental health, invigorating our immune system and boosting our mood by lowering our heart rates, reducing our anxiety and adding dopamine. I can’t think of a single person who hasn’t felt the pull and push of the new “normal” this past year, and it’s done a number on us internally with our mental health – and externally with our social circles and support systems.

Everyone has their preferred methods of communication, and most likely a few they avoid like the plague. I thrive on in person communication, and by in large it’s the one thing none of us have gotten enough of; I miss smiling eyes and eruptions of organic laughter, I miss hugging my friends and being lost in the middle of dance floors. I would be lying if I were to tell you I liked FaceTime; I don’t hate a lot of things – but FaceTime was up there, at least until quarantine. Same with Zoom “parties” – they’re just, a bit overwhelming for me. As a writer, I haven’t minded much that my conversations have been reduced to texting or chats, but at the end of the day I still was seeking a non-digital way to be present with people. Enter: letter writing.

I’ve never been much of a fan of my own handwriting, but realized I don’t see it that often these days thanks to computers, cell phones, and the like. Last Summer, I started playing around with different types of pens, and realized that even though I spend a good amount of time blogging I was really missing that pen-to-paper action. It started as a quest to draw something more than stick figures and evolved into an excursion to find the best doodling tools. Over time, my drawing elevated – but I realized my handwriting could use a bit more manicuring; I mean, when’s the last time you tried to write out the cursive alphabet?! That’s when I put two and two together into a proverbial four, and found a new resource for my writing in handwritten notes, letters and calligraphy. Letter writing itself feels like a lost art form, and it’s helped me connect the dots of my thoughts succinctly and sweetly. Not to mention, there’s nothing quite as sweet as a handwritten love note – especially when it comes from friends and family.

Are you looking to elevate your writing game to the next level, or simply looking for a new hobby? I’ve got you covered with my five must-haves for perfecting your penmanship.

Want to start stepping up your writing game but not sure where to start? I’ve amassed a small but mighty collection of books that have been beneficial in my lettering journey and here’s a few I couldn’t recommend more:


Best Guide to Hand Lettering

A Beginner’s Guide to Lettering and Modern Calligraphy – $6.99

From the fantastic folks at Paper Peony Press comes my favorite tool of the trade for lettering hands down. This book for perfecting your writing style touches a variety of different styles of modern calligraphy, has great summary pages and provides a pretty little introduction to all things hand lettering.

Pro tip – make photo copies of pages, or lay another page on top to preserve the book as you go; that way you can re-use and retrace the lettering exercises over and over again until you’ve got things down pat!

Honorable Mentions:

I’ve tried my hands at a few lettering books; there are lots out there for every type of skill set. Being such a novice at thhis point in my life, I also found an affinity for Hand Lettering 101 ($18.99 on Amazon)


Best Hand Lettering Set for Beginners

Prismacolor Hand Lettering Set – $12.60 on Amazon

Want to get your hand writing form down but not sure where to start? The fantastic folks at Prismacolor have you covered! They have tons of variety packs to choose from when it comes to learning to letter – but for all it’s worth, this one takes the cake for me.

Coming in hot with two graphite pencils of differing weights, one at a 2H the other at a 2B, for easy and smooth outlining, and a kneaded eraser – you’ll be able to get your shapes and sizing right before you lay it down with one of three illustration markers, or the double ended art pen with a chisel on one end and a fine tip to dive into your details. Plus, now you’re already set up for future sketching success!


Best Glass Pen Set

ESSHOP Glass Pen Set – $16.99 On Amazon

Growing up, I didn’t realize how spoiled I was when it came to creative habits. My mom and my step-mother both loved gardening, movement and music; my mom is where I get my writing habits from – but my step-mother is where I first discovered my love for the act of writing.

Where my writing looks more akin to my mother and fathers, and we all might as well have become doctors based on how illegible our writing can become – Jane’s writing may very well become it’s own font one day. Perfectly spaced and exquisite down to the last detail, her love of letter writing, cursive and calligraphy was nurtured onto me from a young age and I’m so happy to carry that tradition forward.

After toying around with hand lettering and calligraphy pens over the Summer, I quickly turned my attention to using glass pens – and let me tell you, writing with intention got real, and it got really colorful. Handcrafted and unique, each glass pen from ESSSHOP shines with technicolor shimmer throughout the body and is riddled with spiral grooves to extend your writing time.

It’s almost a meditative form of writing – you have to pay keen attention to your form, how much ink you swooped up and what thoughts you can get from brain, to finger, to ink, before you have to reload. Plus, the ink comes in a variety of colors – these from ESSHOP have a wonderful gold foiling effect – and are the perfect present for anyone looking to level up their writing, or evolve their style.


Best Quill Pen Set

NC Quill Pen Ink Set – $27.99

If you love the idea of glass pens, you’ll be tickled pink by my next pick. After a few months getting into the groove of my glass pen, I thought it would be cute to throw it back a few centuries and see how I liked writing with a Quill. Oh, yes – feather pens!

They’re a fun gift, and if you’ve been able to master glass pens this is almost a no-brainer. Word to the wise, if you loved the length you could write with a dip of the glass pen you’ll find out very quickly that the quill tip doesn’t hold ink for very long. This set includes several different writing nibs, a bottle of ink and a wax set so you can seal your letters up just like the olden days!


Favorite Journal

Siixu Colorful Blank Hardcover Notebook, Large – $12.99

Siixu Colorful Journal in Summer

Last, but not least – if you’re going to be working on your writing skills – you may as well have a lovely place to journal. I’ve fallen head over heels for this one from Siixu.

They come in four festive flavors; one for each season. I fell in love with all of them, but Summer might take the cake for the gradients of color interspersed throughout the journal. Great for a diary, a poetry or tarot journal, or simply to practice lettering – the journals from Siixu are elegant pieces of work all to themselves.

If you happen to prefer blank journals, Paperage has a wonderful assortment of hardcover journals in both lined and unlined varieties.


For more personal favorites, head over to my curated list on Amazon where I’ve compiled a few of tools, resources and fun accessories to make writing your current favorite creative outlet, and perfect the personal art of penmanship.

Am I missing one of your favorite writing tools? Have a fantastic book or style you’d like to add to the mix? Let me know in the comments below and happy lettering!

[I’ve Got 5 On It] Dandy Tools to Draw and Doodle

If there’s one thing I’ve had a lot of recently – it’s downtime; me time; well, every now and again, the downtime comes with moments of anxiety – others, it turns into a few moments of existential freakout time, but for the most part – these last few months have been exceptional for my mental health, for grounding myself, and for my hobbies.

When I was a wee little one, which at 6’0″ might be hard now for some to imagine, my absolute favorite store trips weren’t to Toys’R’Us or the Disney Store, they weren’t to FAO Schwartz or Macy’s; they were to a little homegrown shops in the Bay Area, Kepler’s Books and McWhorter’s Stationary, both of which I lament are now closed, but both were full of whimsical worlds of wonder to me.

Best Notebook:

Paperage Blank Notebook – Hard Cover – Medium – Thick Paper: $9.95

When it comes to writing and sketching notebook’s, admittedly I’m a little picky. When you’re obsessed with using bright, vivid colors – you also end up suffering from color bleeding from page to page, often times ruining a piece of work that you would have preferred to preserve. Enter the fantastic hard cover journal from the esteemed company Paperage. Whether you want a lined, blank or dotted journal – they come in oodles of sizes and colors, each with the same high quality paper. I got one to turn into a ‘bread making journal’, and I love the size and feel of the notebook, and how the paper is silky smooth to the touch.

Best Organizer

Passion Planner – Weekly Annual Planner – $35

Raise your hand if you felt a bit dumb for getting a planner in 2020! Okay, let me amend that statement – because I actually got two planners. I wanted to dabble around and see what was good and new with planners, and deviated from my norm to the Law of Attraction planner but soon remembered why I had stuck with the Passion Planner as long as I have.

For starters: the ease of kicking it off, the sleek and sexy design, ways to build out goals, whether you want it dated or undated, Sunday or Monday start; the Passion Planner is simply the best planner around and I can’t imagine straying from it again.

Best Writing Pens

Paper Mate InkJoy Gel Pens Medium Point, Assorted Colors – $9.99

Now that we have your journals all lined up and ready to go, it’s time to discuss something a little closer to my heart – PENS. You might think I’m a bit nuts, and you might be right – but there’s something so soothing, so relaxing, about finding pens that glide like an ice skater over your pages, without leaking through or smudging as you go.

I stumbled across these Paper Mate Ink Joy pens when I was back in school at the beginning of the year, and was beyond thrilled at the rainbow array of colors; it made taking notes not only easy – but incredibly fun!

Best Highlighters

Zebra Pen Mildliner – Double Ended Highlighter – 15 Pack: $15.99

When it comes to highlighters, there are some colors that always feel more bold than necessary – in a sense, almost drowning out the monochrome text behind it with a dazzling, technicolor display dripping in neon ink. Vibrant and beautiful, yes; but often becoming hard to re-read, as well. Enter Zebra’s line of Mildliners – a one two punch, with either a fine end and a bold end, or super fine on one side with a brush tip on the other.

Be warned, these mildliners are highly addictive; you can ask my husband, and he’ll agree – getting one set of Zebra Mildliners is a gateway drug to more.

Most Fun to Doodle With

Pentel Arts Krazy Pop Iridescent Gel Pens: $9.27

Last, but not least – my favorite drawing supplies to just doodle with. I’ve gone back and forth on this, and finally have concluded that sometimes, you can’t pick just one – like me right now, deciding which pens I would take to a desert island if I could only take one brand. So, for the win we have Pentel’s line of fantastic sparkly pens.

Whether they’re the RSVP Krazy Pop, Sparkle Pop or Solar Pop pens, or their incredibly vivid Dual Metallic Hybrid stylings, I’ve always been a fan of the ergonomics of the RSVP pens and the boldness of their colors. Add to it some technicolor sparkle that shimmers in the sun, or on black paper, or acts chameleon-like and I’m SO DOWN.


When it comes to drawing and doodling, what are some of your go to supplies that are in your bag? Share your favorites in the comments below!

[I’ve Got 5 On It] Skin Hydration Station


Summer is coming, and I couldn’t be more excited – endless sunshine, late nights, and tanlines; but what I’m not ready for – the amount of hydration that I actually need to quench my skin’s thirst.

Let’s be real though – there’s Summer skin care to treat the heat and UVA / UVB rays, and there’s Winter skin care to treat cold temperatures and dry skin; but there’s also just those simple products that are damn good no matter what type of year you’re in.

Last time, I brought you some of my favorite beauty products – but what I forgot to mention, is that the first step to beauty is skin; and the first thing about skin, is that you need to hydrate it. From this meaning well, mistress of moderate melanin: please believe me when I say that your skin is the one thing you wear for the rest of your life, so you should treat it right!

Here’s my top five picks to help your skin maintain its glow from hips to lips and head to toe all year long.


Neutrogena Oil Free Eye Makeup Remover – $7.99 at Target

I’ve always heard that a good defense starts with a good offense, to have great skin – sometimes it just helps to take it all off and start the day with a fresh face. I recently tried using Micellar Water recently, but discovered too many articles about the potentially harmful effects of PHMB, including toxicity, carcinogenic and mutagenic qualities. My mom always told me, not to mess with a good thing, and that’s why I’m now back to using the same makeup remover that I did in high school.


Curél Ultra Healing Intensive Lotion – $7.49 on Amazon

Back to the last point above: don’t mess with a good thing. This lotion from Curél is literally just what the doctor ordered for dry skin; and I’m not kidding, my doctors have actually prescribed this lotion in the past for clinically dry skin. My husband swears up and down that it’s the only thing that takes the Winter sting out of his hands, and in the Summer it keeps my entire body feeling silky, smooth and fantastic. It’s lightweight, not greasy and long-lasting – might I say, basically the perfect product at a prime price.


CeraVe SA Cream for Rough and Bumpy Skin – $19.99 at Target


My skin has been notoriously bumpy and dry for oh, let’s go with my whole life. Winter, Summer, Spring, Fall; it doesn’t matter, my skin just doesn’t want to hold moisture – so I go out of my way to soak it in.

I specifically use this on my elbows, hips and thighs, in addition to using the Curel Healing Lotion on the rest of my body – but really, it’s great to use anywhere!


Tatcha Dewy Skin Cream – $68 for Full / $20 for Mini Size @ Sephora

Tatcha - The Dewy Skin Cream 1.7 oz/ 50 mL Clean at Sephora Clean at Sephora

Honorable Mention to Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel Cream for Extra Dry Skin as the best bang for your buck option, coming in at a favorable price of $16.49 and available pretty much at every department store and online retailer.

It was an old favorite until this one popped up in my IPSY bag last month, and now I’m hooked. The trial size isn’t shabby, either – it’s a fifth of the size (.34 oz), and about a third of the cost of the full size if you’d prefer to take it for a spin before you dive on in.


BeauteHacks Moisture Sleeping Lip Mask – $10.97 on Amazon

Last, but most definitely not least – my new best friend forever, this deliciously delectable peach lip mask from the beauty gurus over at BeauteHacks.

Yes, okay I admit – once again I am balling on a budget thanks to a Buzzfeed post, and I am not ashamed to admit it. My lips have gone from cracked and unhappy to feeling silky and smooth. Sure, it’s a ‘lip mask’ to use at night – but I definitely use it 24 hours a day and am not ashamed to admit it.


To snag any of these fantastic goodies immediately, head over to my Hydration Station item master over on Amazon!

How do you love the skin your in and keep it hydrated? Let me know in the comments below!

[I’ve Got 5 On It] Basic Beauty Essentials

Beauty Basics

Lately, it’s felt just a bit like we’re on our own deserted islands – because basically, we kind of…are. And let me tell you, with everything going on in the world – my mind has been in overdrive, and I’ve admittedly had my wheels churning for a while. As we all go into overdrive to stock up on the necessities during the crisis, I’ve chosen to turn my attention to something a little more fun. Not that we’re wearing much makeup these days, but I’ve definitely been tossing some on every now and again for semblance of normalcy.

While I’m stuck on my metaphorical desert island until quarantine is over, I’m still going to do my damndest to feel my best; for many, when it comes to makeup, that means going all out – foundation, primer, eyelash curlers, etc, etc. Well, let me tell you that I’m a basic kind of bitch and no, not in that other basic way – when it comes to makeup, I’ve turned into a firm believer that less is more and that you should be accentuating your features, not trying to hide whatever you’ve perceived your flaws to be.

Trust me, I had a phase – and it lasted for over a decade; I was a makeup fanatic, I even had a short-lived career as a beauty blogger – but as time went on, I found that covering my face with powders and liquids galore made me feel a bit more like a high class clown and less like myself. So, I’ve bid a bittersweet farewell to my bold MAC and Makeup Forever eyeshadows and assorted lipsticks that I’m fairly sure I only wore once or twice each – and have accepted a new stock of beauty tools with welcome arms.

While I’m on my desert island, you best believe I’ll be enjoying the following…


Winky Lux Glimmer pH Balm in Unicorn – $16

Hands down one of my most fun impulse buys (thank you targeted Instagram ads), this Winky Lux lip balm looks translucent and sparkly, but instantly merges with your own pH levels to produce a unique hue of glittery pink. It’s sorcery, beautiful, beautiful sorcery.


Benefit Roller Lash Mascara – $23.90

When it comes to mascara, it’s all about the flick of the wrist, and that means the wand. Depending on the style of wand, you could get left with tarantula eyes – for lack of a better term. The Roller Lash from Benefit goes on smooth, doesn’t clump and is water resistant – I call that a mascara hat trick.


Tarte Sex Kitten Eye Liner – $16

I don’t know why it took me until my late twenties to discover liquid eyeliner but believe you me – I’m so much better off for it. It goes on smoothly, you don’t have to consider sharpening it – and depending on the brand, it looks sleek and sexy. So, when I saw the this eyeliner from Tarte – with a cat on it of course – I knew I had to at least try it out. Well, good news for me – it works fantastically and rivals my other favorite — Kat Von D’s Tattoo Liner.


Manna Kadar Eye Priming Shadow Stick in Honey: $24.00

This is another case of ‘IPSY Got Me Again’ – years ago, I had a trial version in this lovely shade of priming shadow stick.

Being me, I actually never used it as a primer and instead just used it as eyeshadow. It worked like a charm. Just a tad of sunkissed shimmer and a warm neutral tone – not invasive, but perfectly highlighting.


The Beauty Crop Glow Milk in Love You So Matcha: $19.50

Finally, a little bit of shimmer for your cheeks in my favorite shade – Champagne; or as The Beauty Crop calls it – I Love You So Matcha. A light shimmer that needs very little liquid, the serum goes on smoothly and lasts all day. A great alternative to powder if you’re like me and have found that the powder blushes and bronzers tend to clog your skin.


See anything you’re in love with already? Snag it here!

If you only could have 5 on it, what would be in your beauty bag? Let me know in the comments below!