Karen Doherty visits with Stephanie for Lunch

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Karen Doherty, (Exaclair’s VP of Marketing) visits with me at least once a year and is always open to anywhere I suggest for lunch. (Last time it was my favorite Indian buffet) This time we went to a very special local sandwich shop called Cafe The Lodge. The food is fresh, tasty and reasonably priced, the space warm and inviting.

The Lodge provides housing, a supportive community and vocational opportunities for adults with mental health challenges. According to individual preferences, the members live independently in scattered rental properties in the neighborhood. The Lodge offers flexible jobs at the Café the Lodge and daily educational and recreational programs. The program is largely consumer-run. The Lodge supports its members to establish a wholesome lifestyle and affirms their self-determination and inherent ability to create productive and meaningful lives.

Rhodia On The Road with Stephanie

Stephanie Biffybeans Smith

I snuck out this past Thursday for a much needed getaway. It had been two years since I had taken a trip that was just for me and boy, did I need it! From Thursday to Sunday I went to The Great Rhythm Revival which is described as “3 Days of Ecstatic Rejuvenation + Conscious Learning.” It is run by my friend Jim Donovan who was one of the founding members of the band Rusted Root.

The event is held on the same farm where the Blue Heron Music Festival takes place in Sherman, New York. I’m not typically one for camping but find it a little easier in this type of environment when there are hot showers available and super tasty organic food being prepared for you three times a day.

After the event ended midday on Sunday, I stayed in the area for an additional three days at a friend’s house near Findley Lake, NY. Now I feel refreshed and more in alignment with the path of least resistance!

In this photo I am holding a small orange Webbie which I use as a gratitude journal. Inside is a four leaf clover that I found while taking an outside yoga class at the retreat.

How a Gardening Journal Helped to Jumpstart my Writing Career

biffybeans garden

There was a time when I thought journal writing was pretentious. It seemed silly and self-absorbed and for someone who’d end up with a career as a professional writer, it’s almost comical how much I didn’t “get it.”

In the late spring of 2004, I’d find myself sitting at The Hacienda in Pasadena, California at my dear friend Lisa’s wedding. Lisa’s brother was sitting and talking with my friend Lorraine at our table about the gift of a new journal and my eyes were rolling back in my head at the thought of, “Oh no, not them too.” Back then, it seemed that no matter where I was, I kept hearing about people and their journal writing. It probably didn’t help that I was also seeing a plethora of black notebooks in the “What’s in your bag” photo group on Flickr.

But the thing that finally pushed me over the edge, and into the realm of the inky pen happened while I was watching TV. Flipping through the channels, I stopped on one of the shopping networks and they were selling, get this- a gardening journal. I watched as the host oohd and ahhd over this book like it was the greatest invention since sliced bread and I laughed out loud. A gardening journal? That’s just ridiculous!

But something about that book stuck with me that I can’t explain. I think it was a five year journal and it might have been something about being able to see things from one year to the next within the same book- a comparison of sorts, because not long after, I found myself at Blick (on Sept. 14th 2005 to be exact) standing in front of a display of black notebooks. Sitting in my car and taking the plastic off of the book, what I didn’t know then was that my entire world was forever changed in that moment – the moment I’d become a writer.

Writing has been my creative outlet, my therapy, and a big part of my career.

Back to the gardening journal – I totally get it now, because I wish I was keeping one for my first ever gardening experience this year but I just haven’t had the time. I wanted to document which seeds I bought from each company and why I’d chosen them. The dates I’d planted each seed. Which method I’d used to start them, (peat pellets or garden soil) and how long until each sprouted. Which products I’d used to prepare the garden beds. Why? Because it is exciting to describe an event or process and then look back upon it to see how it’s grown. Both literally and figuratively.

Do you keep a gardening journal?

By Special Request: A Tour Around Stephanie’s Art Studio

Stephanie Smith Art Studio

I was talking with Karen Doherty last week when she asked if I’d post a 360 degree view of my studio to the blog and I said, “Sure, why not.”

I’m guessing that many of you know that aside from Rhodia Drive, I’m also the author of Spiritual Evolution of the Bean – a blog that started with me writing review after review of various art and writing supplies. A lot of people (especially those in the fountain pen realm) on the web know me by Biffybeans rather than by Stephanie Smith, but I am one in the same.  Continue Readering »

Who Drives Rhodia?

As new people are constantly discovering Rhodia Drive, I thought it best to take a moment to reintroduce myself- especially after having received a recent message asking me if I was Biffybeans on the Fountain Pen Network.

And to that I answer, Yes! Biffybeans=Stephanie Smith

In July of 2008 I started a blog called Spiritual Evolution of the Bean which was a mixture of product reviews, (paper, writing instrument,s and art supplies) candid stories about my personal growth, and my art. I had been a relatively new fountain pen user back then and would often contribute to the forums on The Fountain Pen Network. 

These days I continue to write Spiritual Evolution of the Bean with the content having shifted more towards my art and personal growth and somewhat away from the product reviews- mostly because of time. I write posts for Rhodia Drive four times a week with with Karen Doherty (VP of marketing at Exaclair) penning on Wednesdays.

Aside from the blogging world, I currently maintain an art residency at a local community art & education center called The Banana Factory in Bethlehem, PA. I also teach a series of art centered personal empowerment classes/workshops at various locations in eastern and central PA.

I am also Biffybeans on Flickr, YouTube, Twitter, Tumblr

Who are you?

Mandala Doodling on a Rhodia dotPad

These days I work in lots of different kinds of art media but I still consider myself a doodler.

It was about 5 1/2 years ago that I first started doodling mandalas- a circular art form typically represented by concentric circular patterns radiating from the center outward. For the first 4 years I drew them almost constantly in sketchbooks, tablets, notebooks, etc., typically with a fountain pen or marker. Sometimes I’d draw up to ten in a single day just by sitting and doodling one after another… this became my meditation.

Do you doodle? Do you do it just to kill time/keep your hands occupied or do actually you make the time to do it?

Favorite Pens + Favorite Paper

I started to regularly use Rhodia and Clairefontaine products after discovering years ago that the waterbased inks in my (at that time) new favorite writing tool, (a fountain pen) did not play well with the paper in my then favorite notebook. I then started upon a mission to seek out the perfect pen/ink/notebook combination and documented many of my findings along the way Continue Readering »

Objects of My Affection in a Carnet de Voyage Travel Album by Clairefontaine

Playing around in one of the new Clairefontaine Carnet de Voyage Travel Albums – not yet for sale in the US. (Soon….) It’s noted as 180g (83lb) “drawing paper” but that wouldn’t stop me nor Sandra from trying a multitude of art supplies on its medium textured surface. Continue Readering »

Out with the old, in with the new

Having a birthday on the last day of the year gives me a slightly different outlook than most people because when the clock strikes 12:01 on January 1st, I will literally be a year older in a whole new year.

With this comes certain rituals. I am mere pages away from finishing a journal and will begin anew on the 1st. I will continue to work on my “Manifestation” list for 2012 – a bucket list of sorts which isn’t only about what I want to accomplish in the new year, but also who I wish to be. It is also a time when I like to select a single word to set a specific for the new year, words like: Positive, Abundance, Focus, Clarity, Presence, and Joy all come to mind. I will also “look back down the mountain” to remember my experiences from 2011.

A trip to the river, a last mandala, a smile as I turn forward and continue looking ahead.

Happy New Year everyone! See you next year!

My New Space to Create!

After making the decision to leave my “day job” 3 years ago to lead a creative life, I worked at home amongst many distractions. My snoring husband, hollering bird, the lady across the street that (screams) sings Donna Summer’s greatest hits over & over…

I helped to write a book sitting at a computer in my kitchen (we eat in the living room) and then later graduated to working in the bird’s (tiny) room on a desk that belonged to my husband when he was in grade school. Continue Readering »

Stephanie’s Huge Anniversary Giveaway! (You wanted more dots, you got ‘em!)

In celebration of my 2nd anniversary writing for Rhodia Drive, I wanted to give away a few things that YOU love. There will be 20 winners chosen at random and each will receive 1 large dotWebbie, 1 #12 dotPad and 2 Rhodia pencils.(<- So you can play lines & dots with the dotPads!)

This contest is now closed – winners will be announced here on the blog, Thursday October 6th. Thank you to all who entered!

Today is my 2 Year Anniversary on Rhodia Drive!

Wow, has it really been two whole years? Indeed! Much thanks to YOU dear readers for riding shotgun! I really enjoy what I do here, and judging by the continued increase of your comments, contest participation, and photo submissions, I can only guess that you enjoy it here as well.

My anniversary giveaway will be coming up later in the month and I’m still keeping the prizes a secret… a little hint? I’m giving you one item (of 3) that many of you asked for. :o)

Here’s to another year!
Stephanie Smith – Your Rhodia Driver

PS: Thanks to Oni for the image of the big dotPad!

 

Setting goals and intentions for the 2nd half of 2011

Today is the first day of the rest of your life. It is also the first day of the 2nd half of 2011. Today I decided to set a very specific intention for the rest of the year. Having felt burdened for the 1st half of the year by an emotional heaviness, I am first and foremost consciously choosing to let go of that which isn’t serving me and focusing on that which will nurture my growth. I find whenever I mindfully attach intention to any project or situation, it significantly increases the quality of whatever I’m looking to achieve. Continue Readering »

Fountain pens: Sailor Sapporo or Pelikan M200

Someone recently asked me about which was the better fountain pen- the Sailor Sapporo or the Pelikan M200, and whether or not it was cumbersome to utilize a pen with a screw cap.

In my opinion, there is no best- only what works for you. The Sapporo is a cartridge/convertor pen which holds less ink than the piston filler M200 and will need to be refilled more often. This could be a good thing if you like to frequently change ink colors in your pen. The M200 (for me) takes longer to flush/clean so I usually leave the same color ink in these pens (I have 2 M200′s) to avoid cleaning them until I absolutely have to. Continue Readering »

It’s not just the paper or the ink… it’s both.

Yesterday while perusing my favorite blogs, I came across a post by Leigh Reyes at My Life As a Verb entitled, “Change the paper, change the ink.” It discussed two different kinds of Noodler’s fountain pen inks and how they interacted with 3 different kinds of paper. Fans of my Bean blog are probably pretty familiar with how I tried a kazillion different kinds of paper looking to see which responded best to water based fountain pen inks. I like how Leigh’s post shows in a big way the good and not so good ways in which these inks can react with paper. Most fountain pen inks need a paper that actually resists the ink long enough to prevent feathering and bleedthrough- but not so long that it takes an eon to dry.

Rhodia, Clairefontaine and G Lalo papers (G Lalo is in the Exacompta Journal/Sketchbook) work very well in this department and pretty much put an end to my quest- but I STILL want a journal with a purple cover. (Karen, hint hint!)

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David Allen of GTD on Rhodia

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Chef Hosea Rosenberg on Rhodia

Season 5 (Bravo Network) Top Chef Hosea Rosenberg, originally from Taos, New Mexico, was always good at math. After graduating 3rd in his class at Taos High School, he moved to Boulder, CO to study at the University of Colorado. His dream... Read on »

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About

Rhodia Drive is a blog about Rhodia notebooks and the people who use them. It’s a place where devotees of this “French orange notebook” contribute ideas, experiences and links on the latest tools, events and general notebook-related news.

Rhodia Drive attracts creative people passionate about their Rhodia. Designers and artists, writers and pen collectors, thinkers and free spirits—anyone who loves notebooks—come together on Rhodia Drive.