Maggie Bob Reads: No-Stress Meditation by Katherine May

I’ve always been curious about meditation and mindfulness, but certain it wasn’t for me, because I am rubbish at visualisations (“picture a calm stream in a forest”) and I’ve never yet managed to achieve that blissful state of an empty mind.


All of this makes me a prime candidate for Katherine May’s book. She promises no-stress meditation, and she delivers exactly this. A clearly described ‘no frills’ methodology which requires no special equipment, no particular spirituality and you don’t have to be able to get in to the lotus position. As Katherine herself describes it – “I had hacked meditation to work for me”


If you’ve tried and failed at other methods of meditation it’s hard to believe it can be this simple, but it really is.

No-stress meditation introduces itself with the methodology above, then talks about the history of meditation, its benefits, and breaks down some of the common myths.

Then comes the real meat – Katherine describes her approach to a meditation session and how to personalise it – covering such ground as where and when to meditate (and how frequently), setting and using your focus, getting in and out of the meditative state, and resting afterwards. These are all discussed in simple but unpatronising terms, explaining why each part is important and suggesting how to adjust things to suit you.

The third section of the book is for troubleshooting, answering common issues and helping you iron out the kinks in your meditation routine.

So – does it work? Well, it seems to be taking for me. I’ve been a bit lax in sticking to my routine but I’ve certainly found the methodology helps me achieve a meditative state, and when I bother to do it I certainly feel that lovely level of calmer. I would say to anyone looking to incorporate some meditation ‘me time’ in to their lives to give it a go, anyway.

You can buy the book in paperback or Kindle editions from Amazon, and you can check out Katherine’s meditation website The Minder for more details.

Thank you to Katherine for the review copy of her book

Maggie Bob Reads: March Read List

My mission to keep in the reading habit continued well through March, helped along by a 5 hour wait in London City Airport – fog delayed our early morning light to Amsterdam and left me to almost polish off The Ocean At The End Of The Lane in one sitting.

Here’s my thoughts on what I read in March:

Geli-Voyantes-Hot-or-Not-Elle-Field-cover ocean at the end of the lane The_Fault_in_Our_Stars No-stress-meditation-cover-682x1024ThirteenReasonsWhy Harry-Potter-And-The-Philosophers-Stone_novel

  • Elle Fields: Geli Voyante’s Hot Or Not. A nice, light, read about Geli Voyante who writes the beloved ‘Hot or Not’ column for New News – but aspires to so much more. If you liked the Shopaholic series, you should love this.
  • Neil Gaiman: The Ocean At The End Of The Lane. Had this on the ‘to read’ pile for a while now. Made perfect airport fodder – absorbing, immersing and downright beautiful. The less you know about the story going in to it, the better. Just get a copy (I think it’s finally out in paperback) and get reading!
  • John Green: The Fault In Our Stars. Yes – I fell prey to reading a book because they are making a movie of it. Yes – the story centres on a pair of quite pretentious teenagers (but hey, aren’t all teenages pretentious?). In parts hysterically funny and in parts gut wrenchingly sad. Very, very quotable.
  • Katherine May: No Stress Meditation. I’ve a full review of this coming very soon. A great introduction to meditation without all the usual paraphernalia.
  • Jay Asher: Thirteen Reasons Why. I think this came through as a recommendation to me after reading The Fault In Our Stars. Clay Jensen receives a mystery parcel of thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.
  • JK Rowling: Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone. It’s been a while since I read the Harry Potter series, and there’s been a lot of talk on tumblr about how characters such as Ron and Ginny are under developed in the movies compared to the books, so I thought it was time for a reread in the hope I would rediscover this magic.

That’s quite a decent list, and doesn’t include the couple of magazines I picked up and some online short stories I browsed through. How about you guys – read any good books lately?


Maggie Bob Loves: Writing Letters

This is one in a series of blog posts celebrating National Stationery Week. You can read all of my NSW14 posts, and don’t forget to check out the Prize Giveaway!

Today’s theme is write a letter!


I am a fan of writing and receiving letters, as I know I have discussed on this blog before a few times. For this last day of National Stationery Week, I thought I would give you my top ten reasons you should write a letter, and I’ll intersperse them with pictures of some of my letter writing stationery – which all lives in my magical purple correspondence box of wonder!


  1. It’s thoughtful: when you send a letter to someone, it sends a very clear message that you were thinking of them.
  2. It’s personal: you’re giving the recipient a one-off item, smudges and spelling mistakes and all.
  3. Creating a keepsake: I keep all the handwritten letters I’ve received – the most special ones live in my correspondence box to keep me inspired to write.


  1. Time to contemplate: you can fire off an email, tweet or Facebook status without giving it much thought – just spilling out whatever is in your head. Writing a letter takes time, and you can think more carefully about what you want to say.
  2. You can make new friends: remember the old days of pen pals? Sure, we can get to know hundreds of random strangers on the internet much quicker, but you really get to know someone by writing to them.
  3. It lets you practise your handwriting: there’s not much call for us to put pen to paper nowadays (except illegible scrawls I sometimes leave myself as notes), so any excuse to keep my handwriting fit for purpose is good.
  4. It’s cheap: although I can happily spend lots of pennies on fancy writing sets, all you really need is paper, an envelope, a pen and a stamp.


  1. A good excuse to acquire stationery: of course, if you want to spend money on your writing, there’s lots of gorgeous letter stationery available out there (I should know – I’ve bought or at least lusted after most of it). Or you can get creative and decorate your own plain paper with ink stamps, stickers, thread and ribbons, or anything else you have to hand.
  2. Preserve an ancient tradition: people been written correspondence around the globe for about as long as writing has existed. Who are we to fly in the face of history?
  3. Reciprocation: of course, if you write to someone there’s every chance they’ll send you a letter back, and that way two people get to enjoy the warm glow of something personal through the post. Hurrah!

I do hope I’ve inspired you to get writing. It’s been quite a while since I penned a letter, so if any of my friends do want something fun through the post from me, give me a shout on twitter.


Maggie Bob Wants: To Get Organised

This is one in a series of blog posts celebrating National Stationery Week. You can read all of my NSW14 posts, and don’t forget to check out the Prize Giveaway!

Today’s theme is ‘get organised’!

I am not a naturally organised person, but deep down I really want to be. Here’s some things that I just know will help me with all my stationery organisation needs…

pantone tins

Pantone storage tins | a place for everything | £15

I can have different colours for different things I need to store – although I know in reality I’ll end up throwing stuff in to any tin I can.



MOPPE Mini wooden chest of drawers | Ikea | £15

I love storage from Ikea. And because these are plain wood, I can personalise them with paint or transfers and other fun stuff from my stash.

beau chic box file

Beau Chic expanding box file | Wilkos | £4

So pretty, and it might finally inspire me to organise my teetering piles of paperwork…

custom desk tidy

Customised wooden desk tidy | Letterfest via NOTHS | £28

I currently have a lot of my pens stored in a plastic tub that used to hold mini cake treats from M&S. This customised wooden desk tidy would be something I’d be proud to have on my desk.

futile jotter

Happy Jackson Fridge Jotter | John Lewis | £6.95

I think this speaks for itself, to be honest. This is how I feel about most attempts to organise myself!


Maggie Bob Loves: Pencil Case Memories

This is one in a series of blog posts celebrating National Stationery Week. You can read all of my NSW14 posts, and don’t forget to check out the Prize Giveaway!

Today’s theme is pencil cases!

I have always been a stationery addict. One of my favourite things about starting a new school year was the going out and buying new stationery – fresh pencil case, fresh start. (Okay, I was a bit of a swot and I looked forward generally to the start of a new school year, but you know what I mean). I’m going to reminisce a little here, and I’m hoping some of you will recognise these pencil case memories.

fruit pastilles pencil case

When I was about 14 or 15, these pencil cases were all the rage at school – I’m sure they come in and out of fashion on a fairly regular cycle. You could get ones that (kind of) looked like coke cans, pepsi cans, smartie tube and etc. I think I went through a couple of different designs of these, but I seem to remember this fruit pastille one. Then there came a trend (and I believe this happened in most schools?) for turning these cases completely inside out so that you had a pencil case made of that mucky grey lining material, on which you and your friends would graffiti when you were bored in class.

pencil tin

The metal pencil tins were a lot more grown up looking, although they also came in a range of wacky designs. I’m sure we vandalised these too, by scratching in to them with compass points. I remember having one so bashed up it wouldn’t close any more. Plus, you could never fit a decent amount of stationery in these.

purple fluffy pencil case

When I went off to college and wanted to express how funky and individual I was, I of course got myself a purple furry pencil case, exactly like the one in this picture. It was huge, perfect for highlighters and markers in lots of colours, useful for making detailed and extensive notes.

Now I’m a grown-up who works for a living, I don’t find myself with much call for a pencil case. The pens I use at work stay at work, and all the rest of my stationery is stored in pots and drawers and disorganised piles all over my flat. But I don’t know why I feel like I don’t need a pencil case any more, and this post – in fact the whole stationery week campaign – is making me want one again.

So after a bit of online window shopping, I’ve settled on my next target:

all change barrel pencil case

I feel like I’m regressing with this ‘All Change’ barrel pencil case from Paperchase, but it instantly grabbed my attention (as well as being a stationery nerd I’m also a lover of all things London and London Underground). And I promise not to turn this one inside out and graffiti it… for a few weeks at least!


Maggie Bob Loves: Things Organised Neatly

This is one in a series of blog posts celebrating National Stationery Week. You can read all of my NSW14 posts, and don’t forget to check out the Prize Giveaway!

Today’s theme is tidy desks

I’m not a naturally tidy person, or more specifically I’m not very good at clearing up after myself and I seem to make more mess than is strictly necessary when undertaking any activity. But one thing I do love is an organised desk. I’ve even taken my own desk tidy in to work (well I needed somewhere to keep all my fluffy novelty pens!) and try to operate a clear desk policy. I also keep finding new and better ways to arrange my craft and stationery items in the spare room – I’ve an assortment of drawers, files and boxes, and I am regularly browsing the ikea catalogue for that next perfect storage unit.

So imagine my joy in discovering things organised neatly on tumblr. Now, the site features all sorts of neat arrangements, but I thought I would share a few of my favourite desk and stationery related ones…

tidy desk 1


This pretty desk makes me desperately want to work at Elle

tidy desk 2


I kinda really want that mousemat!

tidy desk 3


Not strictly a desk but look at all those pencils!

tidy desk 4


Minimalist, and all of the pretty colours!

tidy desk 5


That notebook makes this a bit meta (and how much do I want that notebook!)

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m off to line up all the things on my desk very neatly! Oh, and you can follow me on tumblr if you want to, but I’ll warn you – I mostly post pictures of The Avengers and Debbie Harry.


Maggie Bob Picks: Pens for National Stationery Week

This is one in a series of blog posts celebrating National Stationery Week. You can read all of my NSW14 posts, and don’t forget to check out the Prize Giveaway!

pen and ink

You want to be a writer, don’t know how or when? Find a quiet place, use a humble pen.
— Paul Simon

As day 3 of National Stationery Week is pen and ink day, I thought I would show you some of the pens I am currently lusting after

Swarovski Crystalline Eclectic Pen

Swarovski Crystalline Eclectic Pen | £34 at House of Fraser | Because it’s pretty and pink and sparkly

Yellow Happy Pen


Yellow Happy 7-Year Pen | £6.95 at Liberty | For 7 years of writing happiness

fluffy flower pen


Purple Fluffy Flower Pen | 99p at The Works | I am the queen of fluffy pens

Diplomat Fountain Pen


Turquoise Diplomat Fountain Pen | £37 at The Pen Shop | If I can avoid smudging all the ink

polkadot pens


Polka Gel Pens | £3.75 at Paperchase | Because polka dots!



Artisan Desk Pen | £27.99 at NOTHS | It’s made from a whiskey barrel

If you have a favourite pen, do tell me in the comments


Maggie Bob Loves: Notebooks

This is part of a series of posts for National Stationery Week. You can read more of my stationery posts here, and don’t forget to enter my huge stationery prize draw.

Today’s theme is notebooks!


I’m going to come out and say it – I love notebooks. There are over 20 of mine in that picture, and that’s not even all of them, just the ones I could gather together this morning to pose for a photo.

A few highlights from my ‘collection’


This shiny blue mini handbag sized notebook says ‘to remember’ on the front – it came as a trio with ‘to do’ (shiny purple) and ‘to buy’ (shiny pink) – I love the idea that my note needs are some compartmentalised as to require three separate notebooks to record them.



This beauty was a ‘just because’ gift from a friend, quite a few years ago now. In fact, notebooks are a common theme in the gifts I receive from friends – it’s like they know me or something! Not only is the book itself gorgeous (manners are sexy!)  but my fabulous friend also hid some messages for me throughout the book, so the smiles kept on coming.


This isn’t the most glamorous of notebooks, I’ll give you that. But it’s so very organised, with a couple of subject dividers so I know (roughly) which part of the book to go to for which notes. It also has a few plastic pockets and wallets inside, perfect for wayward receipts, vouchers, slips of paper with people’s addresses on and etc. And the pages are all perforated, so if I needed to destroy the evidence pass one of my notes on, I could. This was a constant companion in my handbag for quite a while.

I’ve tried to figure out why I love notebooks. They are useful, practical and can be oh so pretty. There’s a particular rush of a feeling I get when I acquire a new notebook, a frisson of this is the one, this will be the notebook that changes my life, makes me a more efficient and organised person and helps me keep everything in order.

*sigh* Maybe one day I will find that magical notebook. In the meantime, I’ll just keep buying any that happen to catch my eye.