ABM Happy Mail Review

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My name is Clare and I’m addicted to stationary.

I’m OBSESSED with fancy pens, notepads and greeting cards. It started when I was young; like most kids I thought the best part of going back to school was buying a new pencil case and all the bits to go in it and I’ve never really got over that. I like shopping for stationary, talking about stationary, using stationary and even reading about stationary. I love greeting cards and will happily spend £4.50 on the perfect birthday card. I’ll even watch people unboxing new planners and Filofaxes on YouTube (honestly, it’s really addictive) and I follow so many American planner fans on Instagram that my timeline is basically one long succession of girls debating the merits of PaperMate pens over Sharpies, interspersed with the occasional avocado.

But despite my love of cards, when I first read on their brilliant site that the craft and lifestyle blog A Beautiful Mess were launching a monthly subscription service of greetings cards and stationary, I have to admit my first reaction was “Monthly greeting cards? What a waste of money. #richpeopleproblems”. I just couldn’t see why anyone would ever want or need a pack of cards delivered to their door every month.

Then I watched a video that showed the contents of the first pack and I knew I had to sign up.

First of all, ABM Happy Mail is just so CUTE. Everything in the pack is so beautifully designed, I just can’t wait to send them out or frame my favourites. And I don’t know if this is because it’s American, but I like how all the designs are just so fun and friendly, without the irony that everyone in England loves so much.

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I also think that, despite my original misgivings, its actually really good value. If you sign up to a 12 month commitment (which I obviously did) then it costs $15.00 a month plus $2.00 international shipping, paid by monthly Direct Debit. This works out to about £12-ish per month and ABM say you receive roughly $50.00 in cards and gifts. I think that’s about right. To give an example, here’s what I received last month with what I’d cheerfully pay for it in Paperchase or John Lewis:

5 ‘flat cards’ with envelopes = £7.50

3 folded cards with envelopes = £7.50

1 postcard = £1.00

1 mini “Hello My Name Is” notepad = £2.00

2 mini washi tapes on dispensers = £3.00

1 large A4 unframed art print = £10.00

Total = £31.00

That’s about $47.00 so bang on.

One thing I wasn’t sure about when I received the first pack were the ‘flat cards’- basically postcards with what would be written inside a card on the back, that you send in an envelope. I didn’t get how you’d display them if they couldn’t stand up on their own. Are they an American thing?? But! I soon realised that they were much easier to display for a long time: flat pics are better to frame nicely or put in a little wire cardholder (this “keeping and displaying treasured items forever” idea is very much in the spirit of the ABM blog, now I think about it 🙂 ).

As I mentioned above, there’s always a couple of gifts in with the cards as well, usually washi tape (I LOVE washi!), stickers or a notepad plus an original art print. The prints are beautiful- usually a quote or phrase on a graphic background. I’ve used a couple- “Create the things you wish existed” is on our sideboard framed on an old wooden clipboard I nicked from my old work and “Get to work” is my planner bookmark. They’re great to give as presents too, my writer friend really appreciated a framed Maya Angelou quote about creativity that I sent to her out the blue.

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I’ve been receiving ABM Happy Mail for about 8 months now and I would totally recommend it. It’s fun, good value and it turns out it’s really handy to always have cards around, particularly if you’re as forgetful as me!

Has anyone else joined any subscription services? I know there’s loads about, 90% of my office seem to have signed up to Pact coffee. If anyone has any recommendations (Birchbox looks good) or just wants to chat stationary, let me know in the comments!

Final Signature

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2015 Resolutions

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Happy New Year!

Time to think of the ole’ resolutions.

I know a lot of people think NY resolutions are bollocks, but i kind of like the idea of them; listing all the things you want to change this year just seems to make sense to me. I’ve come up with 5, without having to resort to the usual healthy eating or getting fit ones.

My boyfriend has also asked if i can have one that involves me chucking old clothes to clear up space in the wardrobe, but that ain’t happening…

1. Remember birthdays and generally get better at keeping in touch with people. (Facebook doesn’t count!)

This is the main one because I SUCK at this. I am always the person sees you post the (now mandatory) “Thanks for the birthday love guys, I’ve been very spoilt” Facebook post, waits 20 minutes then writes a happy birthday message so it doesn’t look like I only remembered because YOU mentioned it. Don’t look at me like that, we’re all guilty of this.

I’m generally just quite bad at keeping in touch with people. I tend to refer to everyone I know or used to be close to as my friends, to which my boyfriend always patiently asks “Are they really your friend? When did you last see them?” which I think is a little rude, but I also think he’s got a point. I partly blame social media. I use Facebook and Twitter constantly so I therefore know what’s going on in most of my friends and acquaintances’ lives; I know when they’re seeing someone new, what they cooked for dinner and even (if they’re an over-sharing Susan) when they last went to the doctors. I comment on statuses and say congratulations when big things happen, so I feel like I’m still in the loop and socialising.

But I’m not really socialising. All my (real!) friends and I are very busy now, with boyfriends and babies and weddings and increasingly stressful jobs, so we see each other less and less. We are in our 30s, after all. I talk to people online and email occasionally but I probably physically see my friends maybe once a month, once a fortnight at the most. I’m lucky I’ve got a boyfriend at home, close friends at work and a twin sister and mum that I talk to all the time, or I would truly be a hermit. Remember when you said “When we all move out and get our own places, we can just go round each others houses and see each other all the time. We’ll probably save loads of money, too.”? Did that come true for anyone??

SO, I’m going to try and keep in touch with my friends better! It’s not as simple as announcing “You’re seeing more of me from now on, I’ve signed us up for a bowling league!”- as I mentioned, my friends are busy people, but I’m definitely going to check my calendar for birthdays, make an effort to text, email and send cards more, and just try and see people more. I did a kind of ‘soft launch’ of this by actually writing and sending out Christmas cards and I’ve downloaded a birthdays reminder app, so wish me luck!

2. Make lunches for work and waste less food

Speaks for itself really, but spending up to £5.00 a day on lunch when I have the food to easily make sandwiches or salad at home, honestly makes me feel a bit disgusted with myself. As does the constant ‘forgetting to freeze leftovers, so having to throw away half a pie’ situation. No more!

3. Look more groomed and glamorous

In my natural state, I am scruffy, curly-haired and honestly, a little spotty. I look alright when I put the work in, but I can’t always be bothered to make much of an effort beyond the exact same makeup every day and a quick hair straighten.

I would like to look more glam and grownup though so I’m going to make a conscious effort to improve myself in the following areas:

  • Care for my skin by taking my makeup off at night moisturising properly
  • Use all the colours in my new makeup palettes and not just the nude champagne one every day
  • Moisturise my legs everyday
  • Wear perfume more
  • Look after my hair and grow out my crop (although my boyfriend pointed at Shirley in Eastenders the other day and said “That’s just what your hair’s going to look like soon”, so looking forward to THAT)
  • Finally stop biting my nails

That’s actually quite a long list when you write it down, isn’t it?

4. Blog more

I do really like writing this blog, I just have a hard time actually getting round to it, or thinking of stuff to write about. I want to try and post things once a week, or at least once every 10 days if only because it makes me try and think of new things to cook.

5. Read more

I love reading and I did read quite a lot last year, but I would like to get through more books in 2015. I just find sitting reading a book quite anti-social when I’m not on my own so my boyfriend and I tend to watch TV together instead.

I’ve been reading Life After Life by Kate Atkinson for MONTHS so I want to start by finishing that and then reading at least one book a month. I would like to put book reviews on here too, but my critique of books tends to be simply ‘hate, like or love’ so I’m not sure they’d be too long, but I might give it a try, which would add to Resolution 4! It’s all coming together!

I’ve kind of started on all the resolutions, except the reading and 5 days in, it’s going well! Has anyone else made any resolutions? Please let me know in the comments if you have.

I also saw this http://www.buzzfeed.com/alannaokun/im-so-im-so-proud-of-you#.sue51KK4do on Buzzfeed which is sweet but very ‘Pinteresty’ . It also has the worst name ever (The REMEMBERLUTIONS JAR!!) but I might give it a go.

I hope everyone had a great NYE and here’s to a top 2015!

Clare xx

@ClareErin

UPDATE: On new year’s eve (A super-fun night of Chinese, drinking and board games) my friends and I decided to start going to our local quiz night once a month. We shall see if this actually happens, but I’m hopeful!

ZIGGY UPDATE: Our little cat is now so friendly that he was referred to a ‘needy’ the other day! He follows me everywhere from the moment I wake up, demands to share all our meals and sleeps on the sofa, flat on his back like he’s sunbathing. I’m so pleased we got our water-loving weirdo, he’s a brilliant addition to our home. I’ve also found out that just before we got him, Ziggy got his old housemate pregnant and she’s now had 4 kittens. #PLAYA

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