Sep 04

Goulet Pen Company – Review

Reviews 7

I used to try to do reviews quite often, but I haven’t done any for awhile. So today I’ll dust off my reviewer hat and offer my review of an awesome company that has left me very happy in all my interactions with them. I started thinking about them last night when I pulled out pen, paper, and ink to write some long-suffering friends reply letters (they are coming, I promise).

First off, the Goulet Pen Company has the most amazing website for fountain pen and ink knowledge and comparison that I’ve come across. As a relative newbie to nice pens and inks, I honestly can’t do without all their comparison tools.

The Swab Shop is both useful and fun. Since the multitude of fountain pen inks available were what first drew me to fountain pens, having a way to compare (with reasonable accuracy) a large number of different colors is vital. Of course you can’t tell everything about an ink from a swab sample, but you can narrow it down to what colors you really like, and then order a little sample so you don’t pay out for an entire bottle right away.

Speaking of samples. They offer samples of every single ink they carry. I might have a slight problem. Ahem.

Their Nib Nook is yet another brilliant comparison tool. For those of us who can’t just randomly dish out for all the pens we would love to try, we can at least see something of how they write. Because no matter how beautiful a pen is, if it only writes broad and I hate anything wider than fine…we will be very sad. The designations different companies give their nibs are not always similar, so examples are great. Personally, I have my heart set on a Namiki Falcon with a Soft Fine nib thanks to this tool. Sigh.

The most recent of the Goulets’ interactive tools is the Pen Plaza, which is yet again, amazing and helpful in every way. The amount of detail they put into measuring the pens they sell is already astounding. Now they’re compiling that and images of the pens so that we can see the differences as well as read them. Since most people have a decided preference for the larger or smaller (me!) pens, this is also incredibly helpful for internet buyers.

Can I have these? What about just half of them?


Goulet Pens keeps a large assortment of brands of pens, inks, and papers/notebooks. While I don’t see many of the more expensive fountain pens listed on their site, there are several other brands listed in their special order section. Since I’m far from being independantly wealthy, I love that most of their pens are within my “affordable” range even if some of them are still a definite splurge.

My most recent order from Goulet Pens. Love the secure packaging.

Ordering from Goulet is quick and painless – they accept Paypal as well as other forms of online payment. Their shipping is lightening fast. I do live in the same state, so that may make them a little quicker for me than for others, but everything is shipped Priority Mail so it’s still very quick. The packaging is superb and something they’ve obviously put a lot of time into, considering the fragile nature of a lot of the items they ship. I wish I’d taken a picture before I unwrapped everything, but I was in too much of a hurry to see my new pretties.

Everything arrives wrapped in Goulet blue plastic wrap. And I mean wrapped. Sometimes I think I need a blowtorch. Then inside, anything particularly fragile is wrapped again. Inks samples are in their own bag. Ink bottles are wrapped again. I know Brian mentioned on their blog that they were experimenting with some different, more environmentally friendly packing options (and I did get packing peanuts in mine – but they were in bags, so easily reusable), but I am not aware if any permanent change has been made yet. Nothing I’ve ordered has ever been broken or damaged or leaked, so I hope they keep it that way!

Speaking of their blog, Brian Goulet keeps a very fun and informative blog, Ink Nouveau. While keeping readers up to date with happenings in the store, he also regularly posts how-to and informational videos, like the wonderful Fountain Pen 101 series. I’d like to just issue a general thank-you for explaining some of the very basic fountain pen terminology and issues without making us newbies feel like idiots.

The Goulet Pen Company is a pleasure to buy from, and I think they give much back to their customers – not just merchandise, but knowledge and service. I certainly hope they are around for a lot longer and I will happily continue to patronize them.

Disclaimer: I was not compensated or otherwise influenced by the company or others in the writing of this post. All opinions are mine.


Aug 29

McAfee’s Knob

Gardening/Herbalism/Nature 2

This post is long, long overdue – the actual hike took place on July 4, right after the massive storm that took out power throughout much of Virginia, West Virginia, and Ohio. I had been posting the hiking trip posts the week they were done, but since I also came down with the death flu the night after we hiked this, it was never posted. Anyway, enjoy the pictures. 🙂 McAfee’s Knob is such a famous part of the Appalachian Trail and so widely covered everywhere that I’m not really going to go into much description about the hike itself. It’s 3.4 miles each way, not very steep. Might advise bringing more water than we did, as we were rather parched on the way back – but that might also be due to it being nearly 100 degrees that day!

My husband standing out on the knob – my favorite picture from this hike.It wasn’t that early in the morning when we arrived, but somehow the light looked like it.

The Knob was a popular place that morning.

Me and a friend that joined us. We didn’t plan the outfits, I promise!

For most of the way up, it didn’t look like the storm did much damage, but once we were on the ridge about half a mile or so from the knob it was awful. I can’t imagine how many hours with a chainsaw it will take to get the trail clear again.

One of many trees uprooted by the storm.

This fascinates me…what sort of force has to be applied to get this to happen?


Aug 19

And the Year Goes On

Gardening/Herbalism/Nature, Life, Musings 0

This is how it feels here today. Still summer…but losing strength.

Summer is waning, and the moon is rising. Changes are coming to the earth. Changes have flat run me over in the last month, and while not all of them were bad, I’ll be glad when the hot, sticky weather leaves for good. Can you feel it yet? What’s your first notice that the seasons are turning?

I’ve been rather sad and down in my posts lately, so here are a couple of the good changes:

  • I got the relief supervisor position at work. Hooray!
  • We found a new apartment, a loft at Roanoke Riverhouse. Hooray!
  • My time off request for the 5-K run in October was granted. Hooray!

Here’s to a better Monday. Any good changes in your life recently?



Aug 15


Dogs, Life 2

It feels so heavy here, especially in the morning. So much is missing. Dog tags clinking, soft footsteps next to my bed, paw and cold nose on my arm. I keep thinking I hear him, either snuffling softly in his bed or walking past the closed bathroom door. This morning when I was still in bed I thought I heard him cry, the way I only heard on rare occasions when something actually hurt him – high pitched and fearful.

Maybe it was from my heart.


Aug 12

Letter Goodness

Books/Writing, Life 6

A little snail mail always brightens my day, even when life seems cheerless. I had two lovely letters this week, and a couple Postcrossing postcards as well. I am still a bit behind on replying to letters, though the week before last I sent out a couple.


Aug 11

Life Goes On (Or We Try)

Gardening/Herbalism/Nature, Life 2

One of the girls I work with has that phrase tattooed on her collarbone (say ouch?). It’s become sort of her motto. Life goes on, she says, good or bad, happy or sad. She just tries to keep moving when things are sad, and dances when the sun shines.

I’m trying.

My garden certainly is going on. I haven’t been watering it as much as I should, but I still had enough tomatoes for a sauce experiment the other night. I really didn’t feel like cooking (almost never do :P), but I just couldn’t bear to let the little tomatoes that worked so hard to grow go to waste. I’m pretty sure they were supposed to be a little bigger and juicier, but I’m attributing that to the lack of water. They’re also struggling with a decided lack of vigor, probably due to the rather poor soil that I apparently didn’t do a very good job of amending. Sigh.

This was about average size, only slightly bigger than a cherry tomato. Heirloom variety called Red Siberian.

I was trying to make an edible spaghetti sauce. No recipe, so just threw in some basil and oregano from my porch pots, organic garlic (my garlic didn’t do much), a tiny onion from the garden, a pinch of sugar, and salt. I ended up needing to add a bit of tomato paste as well, because the resulting sauce was far too runny for spaghetti sauce.

After adding some ground hamburger, it got rave reviews. I wish I’d had a blender to chop up the tomatoes a little finer, mostly because the bits of the skin came off and I find that kind of disgusting. Overall, it filled the void and I don’t feel guilty because the first batch of tomatoes didn’t go to waste.



Aug 08


Life 18

The last truly “happy face” picture I have of him, brought on by a bowl full of his favorite foods (cheese, banana, and strawberry) right before we left for the last visit to the vet.

It really feels like nothing will ever be completely right again. Everywhere I turn, I’m looking for Timmy. Any door I open in the apartment, anything I do…because he was always there. The worst part is when I get home from work. In the past year he had lost his hearing, so most of the time he would just sleep in front of the door until I came home. He’s gone. And then there’s the bathroom door. He never really came in the bathroom with me, for any reason, whether I was taking a shower or getting ready for work or what have you. He would just lie down outside the door and jump up to give me loves when I was finished. And now…he’s not there.

So much love. But he was so very tired.

I know I did the right thing. Because he was hurting. The cancer, when it finally showed, deteriorated him so fast I couldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. His poor body just finally gave up on digesting food, no matter how much he tried to eat. I held him (as best you can a 70 pound dog) as the vet gave him the injection that would ease any discomfort, and then still for the final one that stopped his heart. I know he felt easier and comfortable at the end.

The morning after getting the diagnosis, I took him to Mill Mountain Park. We people watched and shared an apple (one of his favorite snacks).

But it doesn’t make it any easier. I miss him. He was my happy little “alarm clock” for 10 years. Getting up in the morning is suddenly a lot, a lot harder. I can barely think of anything else. Nothing feels right. Nothing at all. He was my soulmate dog, the one who could read my mind, the one who kept me company through some of the most difficult times of my teenage and early married years. When no one else was or could be there, Timmy was. Now he’s gone, and it feels like nothing will ever, ever be right again.

I’d wanted a picture like this of us for a long time, but never found the time/person to take it. I realized there was no time left now, and so I put the camera on auto. It may be a bad photo, but the memories it invokes are beyond priceless.



Aug 02

Preparing for Goodbye

Life 4

Is nearly as difficult as saying goodbye. 12 years isn’t nearly long enough for my sweet golden boy, but I can’t let him suffer. Our vet’s diagnosis is gastrointestinal or bowel cancer, with it already slowly wearing him away and manifesting in an almost grapefruit sized lump on his hip. He’s so tired. A tennis ball – all his life the immediate perk-up toy, regardless of how far we’d walked that day or how hot and tired he was –  is of no interest and food only slightly so, but he still gives me a tail wag every time I walk by and he’s awake. He’s not in constant pain, but his intestinal system is shutting down. We have some medicine to help him out for a few more days, but on Monday I will say good-bye to my wonderful and best friend over the past 10 years.

He adopted me, in the beginning. He’s always been here for me. Now it’s my turn to be there for him. I can’t let him down, no matter how much it breaks my heart. Nothing will ever, ever replace him.

I talk to him when I’m lonesome like; and I’m sure he understands.  When he looks at me so attentively, and gently licks my hands; then he rubs his nose on my tailored clothes, but I never say naught thereat.  For the good Lord knows I can buy more clothes, but never a friend like that.  ~ W. Dayton Wedgefarth


Aug 01


Life, Random 2

I’m taking my baby in to see the vet this morning. I really have a bad feeling about this time. He’s not himself, has (yet another) ear infection, can’t keep any food inside of him, and since Sunday has had a slight cough (first attributed to almost choking on something). He had little to no interest in a tennis ball on Monday, which is beyond a major red flag.

Send some positive thoughts our way if you think of it.