Back To School Giveaway Thanks To OfficeMax

The products included in this review were provided to me by OfficeMax to facilitate this review and giveaway. I was not compensated in any other way, and the opinions expressed here are my own.

Prize package
Prize package

I’m just back from the DC Fountain Pen SuperShow, and though I was quite conservative in my buying, I have a number of interesting purchases to share with you. But not this week. THIS week, I’m offering you a chance to win a fun selection of OfficeMax products. You know, the things students need as they get ready to head back to school. The basics, done right.

Here’s what’s included:

A 4-pack of retractable gel pens…
Gel Pens
Black ink, 0.7 mm tip

Probably the least distinctive product in the bunch, these pens looks very generic, but write smoothly and without any skips. The line is dark and solid with no globbing or clumping. The rubberized grip makes for a comfortable, if somewhat unexciting writing experience. There’s certainly nothing wrong with these pens. Your student will love them. It’s just that visually, they lack pizzazz. As a utilitarian gel pen, they do the job, and do it quite well.

Retractable Gel Pens
Visible ink supply means no surprises from a dry pen!

A 12-pack of mechanical pencils…
Mechanical Pencils
I’m liking the colored grips!

I gave a few of these to Laura, a student working with me this summer, and they were an instant hit! The colored grip and matching eraser are both eye-catching and functional. Laura immediately commented that the eraser worked quite well and we discussed how so often erasers either don’t work or can even make things worse by smudging what they’re supposed to be erasing. Not the case here. This eraser erases.

Pencil grips

The rubberized grip provides a nice accent as well as a comfortable writing experience. Laura and I both like the look and feel. We were also impressed with the retractable metal sleeve that protects the pencil lead. Because it DOES retract, it won’t get caught on your pocket or purse…a nice touch!

Retractable tip
Retractable tip protector

A 10-pack of liquid highlighters…
Liquid highlighters
Nice color assortment

When I offered these to Laura, she was quick to select a couple of the less typical highlighter colors…green and purple. I’m partial to the orange, but all of the colors are nicely balanced- not so dark that they drown out your writing. The chisel tip makes it possible to draw three line widths, which is nice if you prefer to underline rather than highlight.

Highlighters at work
The highlighters at work

Chisel tip & liquid ink supply
My favorite part? The sloshing ink!

Unlike highlighters with opaque barrels, these highlighters don’t keep you guessing about the ink level. The ink is visible AND sloshable. Which might not be a word, but it’s a fun feature in a pen.

Writing sample
My OfficeMax test drive

The summer is winding down. Sniff. Time to dust off those backpacks and lunch boxes, and stock up on school supplies. But before you go shopping, why not try to win the products reviewed here!

Here’s how to enter:

1) Leave a comment on this blog by 11:59 PM Sunday August 18th. One comment per person, please!
2) Each comment will be assigned a number based on the order in which it was posted.
3) A random number generator will be used to select the winner of the set of gel pens, highlighters, and pencils. The winner will be announced on this blog the evening of Monday August 19th. OfficeMax will ship the prize package to the winner directly.
4) US residents only, please.

Simple(ish): Stabilo All 8008 Pencils (Graphite)

Click on any picture to make it larger.

Life can be complicated, and sometimes we pen folk add another level of complication to our days. If you’re anything like me, there so many daily decisions to be made. What type of pen? What color pen? What color ink? What nib or tip size? Blah, blah, blah. Sometimes I wear myself out with all of the pen chatter that streams through my head.

Sometimes I just want to write a quick note. Like, without belaboring it.

And here’s the perfect tool for keeping things simple(ish).

Stabilo All 8008 pencils

The backstory (because, of course, there is one): When my great aunt moved into a nursing home, I was part of the family team that packed up her belongings. Because she had to drastically pare down her belongings, we spent the last afternoon of packing divvying up what was left behind. I didn’t take much…just a lovely sweater, a stack of cookbooks, and two pencils. Two Stabilo pencils. The pencils turned out to be DIVINE, which I didn’t realize when I tucked them in my purse. The lead is creamy smooth, and the line soft and dark. (My favorite.) I’ve been milking those pencils since November 2008, partly because they were Aunt Clara’s, but also because they are SUPERB pencils. Who knew? (Apparently Aunt Clara did.)

Aunt Clara’s vintage Stabilo on top. New Stabilo on bottom. Equally wonderful.

And so the quest for a NEW stash of Stabilo pencils began, because those two originals weren’t going to last forever, no matter how sparingly I sharpened them. I eventually tracked down a box of 12 at Ahhhh, replenished!

Stash o’ Stabilos

You’ll notice that the pencils are missing an eraser, but I usually use a separate eraser any way, so no big deal. And in place of the eraser, you get a lovely little swan. So much better than a lousy eraser, isn’t it?

A bevy of swans

So while it would be SUPER simple of grab any old pencil, that’s not how we pen types roll. Grab a STABILO pencil to jot a note, balance a checkbook, or make a grocery list. You’ll enjoy the writing experience without having to make all of those pen-related decisions.

Choosing a Stabilo is simple(ish).

Must sharpen to perfection.

Jetstream F*Series 2 Color 0.5 mm Ballpoint + 0.5 mm Pencil

Sooo…multipens. Addicted. Totally addicted. Which is kind of crazy given that having one multipen should be sufficient to meet all of one’s pen needs, right? In theory, yes. Problem is, once you try one multipen, you need to (okay, want to) try more. And more. And more. Until there are multiple multipens in your pen cup. And purse. And messenger bag.

Here’s one of my favorites…one that I recently re-discovered…the Jetstream F*Series 2 Color 0.5 mm Ballpoint + 0.5 mm Pencil (quite the name!). According to the description on the Jetpens website, the “F” stands for “feminine.” I don’t see this pen as being all that feminine, though I suppose the slim design, stripes, and little charm on the end could be considered more feminine than masculine. All I know is that I fell in love with the stripes and the fact that I could carry black ink, red ink, and a pencil in one pen body.


Because it’s a Jetstream, the 0.5mm line is sharp and crisp and the colors are true. Black is black and red is red. No wishy-washiness. Jetstreams, as a rule, do not disappoint. Simply twist the pen body forward or backward to rotate through the three options. My only beef with multipens is that I sometimes forget to check which point I’ve selected, and I wind up writing in red when I want to write in black, or vice-versa. But that’s not the pen’s fault, just user error. And age.

The pen tips are sharp, but smooth. Just perfect, especially if you prefer a fine line. There’s not even a HINT of scratchiness. Smoooooth.

And on the end…a tiny charm. Thus the F series, I guess.

A charming pen, no?!