Back to School?

Group of Exaclair products

A lot of children in our area are going back to school today. Since I don’t have kids, I only know this from seeing everyone’s “First Day of School” pictures on Facebook and Instagram. Seems odd for them to be starting in August, I don’t remember ever going back to school at any other time than after Labor Day weekend.

This got me thinking about one of the things I enjoyed most about going back to school- shopping for new school supplies. Three ring binders, loose leaf paper, pencils, pencil cases, pink erasers, Trapper Keepers and EraserMate pens.

I was artist in residence for a day this past spring at a local private school (Pre k through 8th grades) and the older kids all carried iPads. No paper, no pencils. All of their school work was done on the iPad.

This left me wondering what types of school supplies, if any, are still being used in schools across the US or abroad.

Ingredients for the perfect salad


If you’ve ever had daily access to a salad bar, you probably know what items you prefer in your salad.

While I might not be able to remember what I put in my salads 20+ years ago when I worked in a mall next to a grocery store, for some strange reason, I am able to recall that my friend Lisa’s salads always contained baby spinach, shredded carrots, imitation crab, and peas.

These days, I make myself a big salad several times a week and this is the combination that makes me the happiest:

  • Chopped romaine lettuce or another dark green lettuce.
  • Chopped scallions
  • Pieces of cheese: typically sliced American (I prefer Clearfield brand)
  • 1 Gala apple, peeled, sectioned & chopped.
  • Chopped walnuts
  • Newman’s Balsamic dressing
  • A sprinkle of nutritional yeast flakes
  • A pinch of coarse salt

Sometimes I’ll add in a few “extras” in the form of avocado, chopped ham or chopped cucumber. Tomatoes only if they are local & in season. (I can’t do the plastic hothouse type.)

If all I have is lettuce and dressing, I can do that- but for me, it’s the scallions that really make the salad.

How about you? What are your favorite salad ingredients?

Giving the gift of Rhodia for the Holidays

Holiday Rhodia

Planning to give or receive the gift of Rhodia for the holidays this year? Smaller sized Rhodia products like the classic No.’s 8, 10, 11 (in graph or lined) & 12 (also available in the dot format) make great stocking stuffers, as do the Webnotepads, Rhodiarama Webbies, No. 12 “R” pads, side stapled pocket sized (A7) notebooks, the pocket sized Weekly Planners and last but not least, the Rhodia Unlimited pocket notebook.

Which are you hoping will be in your stocking?

What are your plans for shopping on Black Friday?


The day following Thanksgiving is often considered to be one of the busiest shopping days of the year- will you be making any purchases on this day? Is your inbox as flooded as mine is with special holiday sales and discounts for both online retailers and brick and mortar stores? I’m unlikely to venture far from my local shopping district at least for today, though I’m sure to poke around to see what deals I might find online.

Out of Rhodia?!? How could I let this happen?


Did you see it coming and were you prepared for it? Or were you taken by surprise? I have a habit of always buying more than I currently need when it comes to paper because I can’t bear the thought of running out when I have something that needs to be written down-  a thought, a quote, a phone number, a grocery list or a Thank You note, I want to ensure there’s always more than enough paper to suit my needs.

Do you keep enough on hand, or do you find yourself scrambling to replace your favorite tablets once you run out?


Image courtesy of bakanekosan on Instagram.

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?

Jeff Makes Meatloaf

Rhodia Meatloaf

I usually go to the grocery store without a list and come home with things we need as well as a variety of flexible ingredients that I know can be used in a number of different dishes. Unfortunately, my husband Jeff does not share in this ability and requests that I give him a specific list of things to buy which pains me as much as I’m guessing it does when I tell him to just “go get groceries.”

I decided to try and see if we could meet half way by my showing him a few meals that could be made from common ingredients that could be put on a list of things to “always buy if we are out” when he goes to the store. Knowing how much Jeff loves meatloaf, I also challenged him to search for a recipe so he could better see how these common ingredients are used across different recipes. His first choice was this Martha Stewart Classic Meatloaf recipe which we made together and is in the oven as we speak.

Still Need Rhodia for Holiday Gift Giving?

11 days until Christmas and you could use a few more Rhodia products for under the tree? Meeting Book for Uncle Harry, #8 Shopping List notepads for Mom, Rhodia pencils for your little sister the artist? Check out our list of online retailers on Some of these retailers offer expedited shipping options so you should be able to get everything you need in time for Santa to come down the chimney.

PS: Don’t forget to leave out a treat (typically carrots) for Santa’s reindeer.

Image courtesy of Alejandro C Finy. Follow acfiny on Instagram.

Going Shopping

Ever since the introduction of online shopping, I’ve found it a challenge to rely on what my local retailers stock when I want to buy something. Continue Readering »

Write This Down: Smoked Paprika

I am a decent cook. Mom was a decent cook. Gram was a very good cook. (It was her job for 18 years to cook for the elderly at an extended care facility.) I watch lots and lots of Food Network programming and shows with Gorden Ramsey. I am not afraid to try new things and typically throw things together rather than follow recipes. I also tend to shop without a list which means that sometimes, things can fall by the wayside. Continue Readering »

Shopping your local Farmers’ Markets

With spring and warmer weather on it’s way to the US, many of our seasonal local farmers’ markets are getting ready to start back up. I live in a metropolitan region of 800+ thousand (3rd largest in PA behind only Philadelphia and Pittsburgh) and we’ve got more than a few mainstays with regards to local markets. Continue Readering »

First Friday in Bethlehem, PA

Many towns have some kind of First Friday events. In Bethlehem, we have a celebration of SouthSide businesses with music, food and wine tastings scattered throughout the shopping district.

Tonight at the Banana Factory where I am a current artist in residence, there will be 4 exhibit openings, including the resident artist “White Works” show. There will be live music, glass blowing, ceramic, and jewelry making demonstrations and much more! It all happens from 6-9pm – so if you can, be sure to stop by my studio #249 to say hello!

My 10×10″ acrylic painting on canvas above, “Hayden’s Adventure” was inspired by my friend’s young son and is also the piece I submitted into the White Works exhibit .

© Stephanie Smith All Rights Reserved.

Black Friday Madness

The day following Thanksgiving in the US is commonly known as “Black Friday” and though not a holiday, it is the official start of the holiday shopping season when most non-retail employees have the day off and retailers offer incredible deals to encourage spending.

Sale items are often offered so low (and in limited quantities) that people will camp overnight (or longer!) to be one of the 1st people to buy the designated item. The excitement to receive a low price large screen TV or laptop has resulted in people being trampled and sometimes even killed by frenzied shoppers.

I just don’t understand. I can’t think of a single thing that would get me to go through that much time, effort & chaos. But then again- I don’t have children and maybe that adds a layer I’ll never understand.

Are you going to do any Black Friday shopping?

Finished your Holiday Shopping Yet?

I know some people like to shop early, but I am not one for early decorations and blaring holiday music the minute the clock strikes midnight on November 1st. The only shopping I really love is at the art store or book store, though I can’t deny the amount of cool stuff in the stores that only seems to show up around this time of year.

As the variety of online retailers continues to climb, people are able to experience shopping from the convenience of their homes to avoid the rampant holiday commercialism but I think maybe something is lost during that process. I worked in a mall for 10 years and dreaded every holiday season but once I left, it was easier to see how special and magical a time of year it can be to the wee ones. One thing that I did enjoy was that everyone in the world seemed to show up to that tiny mall around the holidays – I got to see everyone.

Most people I hear from are not a fan of the early holiday retail push – what do you think about it? Does it help to get you in the holiday mood? Or do you simply tune it out?

Get Ready NYC! Super Bargains on Exaclair products Dec. 1st-3rd

Something for Everyone! Stationery, Cards & Envelopes, Notebooks, Organizational Products, Calligraphy Items, Fountain Pen Inks… Plenty of bargains and lots to choose from. You will find discontinued cover styles and samples from France. (This will not include items from the current catalog) Continue Readering »

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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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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.