Troubles with Torrid

I tend not to write about negative experiences if possible, as I prefer to dwell on the positive. However, in this case, it’s more of an annoyance and inconvenience. Also, I hope this post will help other who are considering purchasing from this store.

Until recently, Torrid was my favorite clothing store. I could purchase anything, online or in-store, without having to worry about sizing. The clothes were well-made, so I knew I’d get my money’s worth. And the general look and styles fit my personal preference.

I purchased so much from them that I hit the platinum level of their points system. Torrid was almost the only store I shopped for clothing from.

However, my most recent purchases have been major failures. The fit has been horribly inconsistent, and the quality seems to have gone down a bit. Allow me to share my most recent fit failures. Don’t want to read the backstory? Just jump down to the wrap up.

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Green Nib Update

I mentioned in my 2018 DC Pen Show post that I purchased a green nib from Hinze Pen Company to match my Green Ivies pen from 18111. At the time, I thought I was purchasing an anodized nib. Turns out, it’s lacquered steel, which explains my experience. At the show, I was warned by a few people that colored nibs tend to experience flaking. Sadly, that warning held true for my nib.

I waited a while to write this update, because I was hoping that I could give you a positive result. At first it seemed as though the flaking was minor, and, if it had stayed like that, I could have lived with it.

With the first and second cleaning (both within the first month), a bit of green flaked off either side of the nib slit on the outer edge of the tines. It was noticeable, but it wasn’t really obvious, so I hoped that that would be the end of the flaking, and I’d have a good nib.

However, with the most recent cleaning, I decided to change the color in my pen. I found, as I cleaned it, that the ink was being particularly stubborn. After 10+ minutes of flushing water through it, I decided to pop it in my ultrasonic cleaner.

SIDE NOTE: You’re probably shaking your head. Yeah, I know, I shouldn’t have put it in the ultrasonic cleaner. But…I thought it was anodized, and an anodized nib likely wouldn’t have had a problem with a half “round” in the ultrasonic cleaner.

It occurred to me at the time that I may be making a mistake, but I needed to clean the nib thoroughly, and I didn’t want to spend forever to do so.

Sure enough, the ultrasonic cleaner was a MASSIVE mistake. Here’s the nib after about 45 seconds in the cleaner. As you can see, there’s no going back, the green is toast.

So…my thoughts on colored nibs. Seeing as so many people warned me about them, I’m going to wager that this type of problem is common. I really wish that the nib had come with a disclaimer of things to avoid, or ways to care for it that would keep the color from flaking off.

That said, if you’re VERY careful with the nib, you can probably get a lot of use out of it before the color flaking becomes obvious. Also, if you can find an anodized steel nib, you’re likely to get much more use out of the nib before you have color flaking issues (if you have any).

If, however, like me, you have a certain expectation of performance for your nibs, a colored nib probably isn’t for you, especially one that’s lacquered rather than anodized.

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Stipula Etruria Prisma 88 Comparative Review

Last year I wrote about my Stipula Etruria Rainbow Prisma 88 and followed it up with an update. It’s one of my favorite pens, so when the Stipula Etruria Prisma 88 Magma was announced, I snapped one up.

Now that my Magma is back in action, I’m writing a comparative review of the two. I couldn’t find anything about the Rainbow when it first came out, and there doesn’t seem to be anything about the Magma, so hopefully, this will help anyone considering purchasing either of them.

Backstories

If you know the history behind these two pens in my collection, feel free to skip down to the main review.

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Regalia Writing Labs Sequel Nib Review

Collage of close ups of the Sequel nib

I’ve wanted one of Regalia Writing Labs‘ Sequel Nibs ever since Ralph shared the first photo of one. Part of my interest was based on the uniqueness of the nib, and part was a desire to support Ralph in his continued nib tinkering and modification. I’m very interested to see where his efforts take him.

Unfortunately, he teased us all for a while before making the nibs available, and then, only at shows. They’re still (to the best of my knowledge) only available at shows or via Instagram flash sales.

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Franklin-Christoph Firma Flex Notebook

I’ve been searching for my “perfect notebook” almost since I started using fountain pens. Every notebook I tried had at least one problem (in my opinion, I’m sure people would disagree with me). I’d just about given up hope of finding my “perfect notebook” when I stumbled across the Franklin-Christoph Firma-Flex Journal Notebooks.

The Search

When I started using fountain pens, I realized I could no longer just pick up any notebook I wanted to. So began my notebook search. And, of course, the elements that make up my “perfect notebook” have changed over the course of my search.

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The Montegrappa Fortuna Saga

With one exception, my experiences with fountain pens have been fantastic. Today I’m going to tell you about that exception. Before I do, however, I want you to keep something in mind. I vacillated for weeks between sharing this story and keeping it to myself. I don’t want it to read as a smear on Motegrappa. What I want you to take away from this story is the amazing customer service offered by Cary Yeager of Kenro Industries.

Montegrappa Fortuna Heartwood Pear

I bought my Montegrappa Fortuna Heartwood Pear (FHP) on November 11 at Bertram’s Inkwell‘s yearly trunk show. I’d been eyeing the pen for a while. It’s beautiful. Cary had one at his table with the nib size I wanted, so I bought it. And so began the FHP saga.

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Regalia Writing Labs Semiflex Nib Review

If you’ve been reading my Fountain Pen 101 series, you’ve seen a couple of shout-outs to Regalia Writing Labs. Beyond being a genius with nibs, Ralph Reyes, the creator, is a really nice guy.

He offered a limited run of “Full-Flex” nibs a few months ago, and Jim was lucky enough to snag one. It was absolutely amazing. Check out this fabulous flexibility. I wasn’t even putting much pressure on it.

Full Flex Writing Sample

So when Ralph announced a Semiflex nib was coming, I turned on post and story notifications for his Instagram account and eagerly awaited the start of the sale. I was lucky. I got my hands on a nib, as did Jim. It took a while, but our nibs finally arrived on Monday.

Semi-Flex Nib Packaging

Ralph did an amazing job with the packaging. I felt like I was getting a piece of jewelry. And I loved the custom seal.

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Harry Potter Hogwarts Cash Grab

Like Potterheads the world over, I rejoiced when Portkey Games officially announced two Harry Potter apps last year. Harry Potter Wizards Unite (the Pokemon Go style app) sounded more intriguing, but I was interested in Hogwarts Mystery as well.

I promptly followed the HPHogwartsMystery Instagram account and pre-registered for the app as soon as I could in order to stay up to date on all the news. I feel no shame in admitting I, quite literally, squeed in joy when I received the email alert that the game was available. At my desk. At work. #potterlife

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Lola’s Blog Tours

January 24th was my cover reveal. Congratulations to the winners of the accompanying giveaway!

I did some research while preparing it, and decided to go with Lola’s Blog Tours for the simple fact that, at the time, her cover reveals were free. I figured it was a good way to evaluate her services, and if it was a flop, I hadn’t really lost anything. Thankfully, it was a decent success.

Of course, the question is, how do you measure success? I’m not naive, I didn’t expect my book cover to be plastered across the internet on every single page, especially not as part of a free service, but I’m pretty happy with the 16 people who signed up.

Between the participating bloggers, the social media reach was pretty impressive (to me). It’s impossible, of course, for me to calculate the total reach. But based off of a simple follower count of accounts that posted, tweeted, retweeted, etc., the social media reach of my cover reveal was approximately:

  • 8,000 accounts on Facebook
  • 36,700 accounts on Twitter
  • 428 accounts on Instagram.

This does not account for overlapping followers, nor does it consider blog subscribers, so the reach could be considerably higher.

I also ended up with 29 giveaway entries, which isn’t bad considering the prize was one ebook.

I felt the results were good enough to book additional services with Lola’s Blog Tours. I’ve scheduled a blog tour for March 5-18. If you’re interested in participating, check out the sign up post. I’ve also scheduled a review opportunity that will start around the same time as the blog tour. Subscribe to my blog to get notified when it starts.

I’ve really enjoyed working with Lola. She’s professional and efficient, qualities I greatly appreciate. If you’re in the market for any of her services, I heartily recommend Lola’s Blog Tours.

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The Joy of Coco

There will be spoilers towards the end of this post, but I’ll warn you first.

I saw Coco for the second time on Saturday. And while it didn’t hit me quite as hard in the feels this time, it was still an amazing movie.

The first time I saw Coco (on Thanksgiving), I was blown away, absolutely enchanted, and amazed to see my heritage, Mexican heritage, portrayed on the big screen in such a beautiful way. As Chantel mentions in this Pero Like video, it was amazing to see a story that happens to be set in Mexico, rather than a story about being Mexican.

The Rivera family from Coco

At its heart, Coco is about family. That family just so happens to be Mexican, and living Mexican lives. Therefore you have a rich tapestry of Mexican culture woven into the story. But the central theme of family can be (and has been) played out in any other setting (think Brave, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, Finding Dory, Inside Out, etc.). I think this is part of what makes Coco so special to me. The Mexican culture isn’t highlighted, isn’t glorified, it’s just there. But you can’t help but appreciate the beauty and richness of it.

Granted, in Coco, the focus is on one particular facet, Dia de los Muertos. But you get to see other bits as well. With Ernesto de la Cruz, you get a glance at old films. With the music competitions, you get a look at mariachi music. There are also alebrijes, lucha libre, ballet folklórico, chanclas, and on and on, but you get the idea.

Growing up multicultural, I never really paid much attention to people saying that it means a lot to see yourself represented in movies, TV, etc. That was a failing on my part, I know. But Coco opened my eyes to just how much it can mean. There were multiple times I found myself tearing up in sheer joy at seeing Mexican culture portrayed correctly. I can only imagine how great it was for all of the abuelitos going to the movies for the first time and seeing the magnificence that is Coco.  

So if you haven’t seen Coco yet, stop reading here (there are spoilers coming), and go see it while it’s still in theaters. Really, it’s worth it. If you have seen Coco, then let me share with you a little something I noticed when I watched it the second time.

 

***Spoilers Ahead***

 

It didn’t take me long on the first go around to figure out that Ernesto wasn’t Miguel’s great-great-grandfather. And it didn’t take much longer to determine that Hector must, therefore, be Miguel’s great-great-grandfather. What I didn’t pick up on, and really should have, is that because Ernesto stole Hector’s guitar, there was likely something nefarious going on.

And speaking of the guitar, did you notice that it’s the first hint the viewers get about who Miguel is actually related to?

The guitar has a gold tooth.

Head of the Guitar from Coco

Hector has a gold tooth.

Hector from Coco

Ernesto does not.

Ernesto de la Cruz from Coco

It’s even on the movie poster. Talk about fabulous foreshadowing. Did you catch that hint? Let me know in the comments.

Note: All images found through Google.

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