Sunday, November 20, 2011

Libelle Siena Fountain Pen

As many of you know by now, we here at The Poor Connoisseurs are all about getting the most for our money. As part of a closeout sale, I was able to snag this Libelle fountain pen for about 60% off.

Since it was such a bargain, the Libelle Siena feels like it is worth much more than I paid for it. It is “expensive feeling” in the hand; the parts are all machined and fitted together very well. I chose the “Palio” pattern, and Nick calls it my “Cosby Sweater Pen”, but I love it. I get a kick out of coordinating my ink and pen colors, and the colors in the Palio give me many options all in the same pen! The chrome-accented pen has a black base with flecks of orange, blue, and magenta. There are some pretty pearlescent parts which give a vintage depth to the finish of the pen. It comes with an extra cap that is all black, just in case you desire a more reserved look. This is a very thoughtful bonus! Also included are a standard international cartridge and a converter for filling from a bottle of ink.

As far as the important part goes (ie: how it writes)- very smooth and just a tad on the dry side. This one was kind of difficult to get going, but once I matched it with the right ink, it was smooth sailing. I decided to take mine to a nail buffer just a few times to eliminate the possibility of the “baby’s bottom” one finds on so many modern nibs. It took a small amount of tinkering, but the nib is very smooth, and certainly worth the $45 I paid at I would definitely recommend this pen to a friend with the same level of FP experience as myself (which is not much, but enough to jump a few very low hurdles).

And now for the most important part: THE PICTURES!!!

Size comparison (L to R: Jinhao X750, Lamy Safari, Libelle Siena, Esterbrook J)

And finally, a writing sample and comparison to other nibs:

Sunday, September 18, 2011

What We’ve Been Up to Lately- A Photo Experience


I haven’t updated in a bit, mainly due to the fact that we’ve been crazy busy. I’m back in school for Fall Semester, and Nick is working AND going to school. We have been more social lately as well. Instead of not update at all, I figured I’d share some highlights with our dear readers via pictures.

First, the culinary creations, courtesy of Nick:

Now for the writing and stationery goodies, which are my doing of course:

And lastly, we’ve just been hanging with our super awesome dogs!

I hope y’all will stick with us until we get a bit more free time! Meanwhile, keep it classy. Remember, any closet is a walk-in closet if you try hard enough!!!


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

J. Herbin Poussiere de Lune Fountain Pen Ink

This ink is the reason I wanted my first real fountain pen about a year ago. The color is a dusty purple, something you would maybe see in a gorgeous painted sky as the sun sets. Yeah, that sounds cheesy, but this color really is that great.

Poussiere de Lune is an almost pastel purple that leans more toward the blue side of the spectrum than the red. Think diluted Grape Kool-Aid, and you’ve pretty much got a spot-on idea of the color. PdL would be related to Private Reserve Ebony Purple and Sailor Jentle Chu-shu, perhaps their younger sibling. It is very unique and obviously from a fountain pen. This color is subdued and I believe you could use it in a professional setting- given you were not restricted to blue or black ink only.

To speak of the technicalities- it is an average to slightly dry and less saturated ink, but it is very nice. There is a decent amount of shading. This Herbin offering could stand to be a little bit more lubricating, but it is pleasant to use. Many people have commented how surprising the water-resistance is, and I have to concur. I have a feeling that as school approaches, I will be using this ink with a nice smooth medium nib to take notes. This is definitely an ink that I will buy again.

Here is a comparison shot with some other purples:

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Beauty on the Cheap

I am a thrifty girl, how else would I be able to waste money on pens and inks?!? So over the past year or so, I have discovered several great products that will keep you looking put together for very little money!

First we’ll do skin care. I am not particularly fussy about these kinds of things, but I do suffer from dinner-plate sized pores, especially on my sniffer. This is the ONLY facial cleanser I have ever used that doesn’t make me break out.  (Catch-22 anyone?) Anyhoo, this cleanser actually DOES make your pores smaller, and it can be used as a daily cleaner, or put on dry skin as a mask. I’m not sure how much I paid for it, but I’d say it was in the neighborhood of $5-6 at Kroger. It also lasts a very long time if you are just using a small amount in problem areas.  This is good stuff, and I just hope I can find it again when I run out.

Next, a mani-pedi! I LOVE nail polish, but I HATE spending the time on my nails and having the paint chip off the very next day. This Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear nail polish is just the ticket. It applies easily, dries quickly, and lasts a good 5 days without any significant chipping. This is my current beauty obsession. It also helps that the stuff $2-3 a bottle and widely available. The color offerings are great (way more than what is pictured above), and it simply spanks much more expensive polishes in terms of lasting once applied. *cough* OPI *cough*

Finally, let’s address our hair! I have RUINED my hair many a time because I can’t leave it alone. Having done so, I know all too well the value of a great shampoo and conditioning routine. I’ve begrudgingly spent $22 on one container of Biolage Conditioning Balm before because it WORKS. Lucky for me, Suave’s new “Professionals” line really does the trick, and for much, much, much less money! I am very adamant about taking good care of my hair because I am trying to let it grow out. I can honestly say that this moisturizing shampoo and conditioner is comparable to Biolage in how soft, shiny, and sleek they make my hair look. For the big bottles, you’ll only have to drop $2 and change at Wal-Mart.

I hope these tips can help you, my dear readers, save some pennies where you can. I haven’t been reimbursed in any way, shape, or form for these reviews, though I wish I had! Also, the pictures are just results of Google image searches, and are not my own.

Stay Nifty and Thrifty,


Noodler’s Russian Eternal Rachmaninov Fountain Pen Ink

Ok, since I am playing ketchup- yuk yuk yuk… catch-up, here is post number 2 for today.

This is an ink I lusted after in my search for the perfect pink ink. It is glam and fab and all that other good stuff. I’m still not sure if this one wins out over Diamine Hope Pink, but they are my top two contenders.


What is important to note about this ink is that it is NOT translucent in the bottle… it looks more like paint than ink for a fountain pen. It is rumored to have flow issues, but I never experienced any. I do need to try it out in another pen in the future. Rachmaninov is not a particularly lubricating ink, but it IS very waterproof, and absolutely unique. This color is not currently available for purchase anywhere that I know of, but I believe that the Goulet Pen Company is supposed to be getting the entire Russian Eternal line of Noodler’s in stock sometime in the future.

To keep it short and sweet here are more pictures:

P.S.- I am not affiliated with Goulet Pens, or any other company. (Though they are amazing, and I highly recommend buying from them.) I do this because I like pens, and I have no life.

J. Herbin Cacao du Bresil Fountain Pen Ink

I'm making this quick, because I am uploading at least two reviews today. It's about time, huh? I've just been so lazy this summer, I'm sorry.

So here we have J. Herbin Cacao du Bresil. This is technically, I suppose, a "brown" ink, which- if you know me at all- is NOT my thing. I like this ink though, I really do. It is grey enough to not be fecal-looking, and it behaves very well. I'll let the pictures do the rest of the talking for me.

P.S.- I take pictures with several different cameras (well, 2- my real camera and my phone camera), then, I try to pick the shots that showcase the ink color and its properties the best. This is why the colors of the PAPER will look different. I recommend that you average it all out and research other shots of this ink before you decide if it is worth your money.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sailor Jentle Sky High Fountain Pen Ink

I received this ink as a sample from my Goulet Pen Company Inkdrop for June. At first, I must admit that I wasn’t too impressed. It reminded me a great deal of Diamine’s Mediterranean Blue, of which I already own a bottle. Then something glorious happened… I saw the sheen.

First things first, this is indeed a pretty medium blue with lots of shading. I like Mediterranean Blue, so there is no fault in the hue. Where Sky High improves upon it is in the beautiful red sheen that can be seen where the ink pools up a bit. The sheen is some sort of metallic micropigment or something, that when added to the blue color gives an almost purple-ish look that is so attractive. I’ve used (and own) several other inks with this element, but this is one of the prettiest that I’ve seen. When going for this effect, one must use a pen that puts down a lot of ink and paper that is not super absorbent. I’ve gotten good results on both Rhodia and Staples Bagasse. Here is a macro shot where you can really pick it up:


I have grown to really love Sailor inks because they have such an awesome flow in my more finicky pens. Sky High is no exception and where lesser inks will skip in my Jinhao X750, this offering from Sailor performs admirably. The dry time is on par with other inks I’ve used, not very quick (especially on Rhodia with a broad nib), but not too bad either. It is NOT waterproof, and you certainly cannot read the “smeared w/ a wet q-tip” that I wrote to test that aspect.

Overall, this is an excellent ink, and I have already added it to my birthday wishlist!

To read more about the Goulet Inkdrop Program, click here.

Lastly, I must thank my Sister-in-law, Leilani, who gifted me with my Inkdrop membership as a Christmas gift!

A few more shots:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Zebra Sarasa Clip

My oh my, it has been a while! School, a new kitty, and Nick's bum knee have been keeping me busy. I wanted to come back with something a bit different. I'm giving the people a pen review, but I'll mix it up from my string of fountain pen inks and do a gel pen review!

This time around I'm going to talk about the Zebra Sarasa Clip, in two tip sizes: 0.4 and 0.5.


I have read many glowing reviews of these pens and initially, I picked up the Blue-Black and Viridian Green .4's (seen on the right of the above picture) from Jetpens a while back. They were alright, but being a fan of a broader point, they didn't do much to sway me from nearly exclusive fountain pen usage. The .4's are pretty much right on the edge of my "too fine and scratchy" cliff. I would use the pen in a pinch, but it isn't something I'd pick over better options in my stable. In fact, I have since rehomed my blue-black .4 Sarasa. (I hear it is doing well, and is very loved.)

Here is a comparison shot of the .4 and .5 tips:


The .5’s are a different story. I ordered them because suddenly- new, fancy, FABULOUS colors were available. I accidentally ordered .3's the first time, and they were NOT for me (they have since found a new forever home). Third time's a charm, and I finally got this lovely rainbow of the colors I was after in the right tip size.


The colors pictured above, from Left to Right are: Pink, Blue-Green, Light Green, Purple, Red-Orange, and Magenta. Aren’t they just swell???

So, about these pens, they have a smooth transition from grip to barrel, which I have found is such a big plus for me. They are a nice, sturdy retractable which will provide hours of mindless entertainment for you “clickers” out there. Worth noting is that the piece inside of the pen that exposes the tip for writing rattles a bit now and again. This doesn’t bother me, but I could understand it being a problem for some. You might not want to take this one with you when you do your nightly ninja attack.

These .5’s are pretty darn smooth writers, but they vary just a bit amongst the bunch. The smoothest is the Red-Orange, and the scratchiest is probably the Pink or Light Green. Here is your standard writing sample, which I had to shoot with a camera, the scan is WAY too light and bright:

Zebra Sarasa Clip Writing Picture

From top to bottom the samples above are: Blue-Black .4, Viridian Green .4, Purple .5, Magenta .5, Pink .5, Red-Orange .5, Light Green .5, and Blue-Green .5.

Probably the most unique feature of these pens (aside from cool colors), is their “binder clip”. This sturdy clip is hinged so it can hold up to being clipped onto objects thicker than just a few sheets of paper. I think this is a fabulous feature, and it really seems like Zebra thought this one out and made it worthwhile. Here are some sweet clip shots:



I summary, these are pretty sweet little pens, and for somewhere near $1.50 a pop, they are one heck of a deal. I haven’t “workhorsed” these yet, but they hold up well to menu-making and grocery-listing. They’re not going to make you abandon your fountain pens, if that is your drug of choice, but sometimes life calls for a different tool. Heresy, I know- but it is true.

Keep it fancy (and thanks for your patience!!!),


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

We're Still Alive.

Just a quick post to let you know we're still here, still poor, and still trying to live the good life!
We've made a few purchases of interest with our tax refund, but we simply haven't had time to update everyone about them.
More reviews are on way, but we've so busy with school, and family obligations have been taking up a lot of time as well.

Keep it classy,
Nick and Shay.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Punch London Club Maduro

Cigar: Punch London Club Maduro

Shape: Petite Carona

Country of Origin: Honduras

Length: 5"



Wrapper: Ecuadoran Sumatra

Filler: Honduran, Nicaraguan, Dominican (Piloto Cubano)

Binder: Connecticut Broadleaf

Price: $4.50

This is not a cigar for beginners. Punch has a reputation for smack you in the face cigars, and this little rocket does not disappoint. If you are a fan of stronger cigars then this little guy would be a great inexpensive addition to your smoking line-up. If you are just getting into heavier cigars, or have never smoked a maduro, I would not recommend this for your first. Don't get me wrong, I like this little cigar pretty well, but it is not for the faint of heart, and more than likely your wife or significant other will not appreciate the pungent aroma. This little guy has a very nice bitter sweet chocolate aroma when unsmoked. It is fairly well constructed, but a little soft. The appearance is not bad either, but the wrapper is fairly vienny and not overly oily. It lights well, and burned even enough for the entire smoke time, which was around 30 minutes. The ash was sturdy, but not dense enough to win any records. The flavor was pleasant, but predictable for an inexpensive little maduro. It was spicy and leathery throughout with earth tones at the start. What really struck me about this petite carona was the smoke. The smoke was a nice white color, but the surprise was in how incredibly thick the smoke was. The smoke from this cigar was so thick that it would cling to my face when I exhaled and I almost had to shake it off at times, and it didn't just dissipate either, this smoke hung in the air like a blanket, continuously moving and twirling about with a slow lazy ease which seemed almost ethereal. Needless to say, Shaylen and the dogs were not very appreciative of this quality, but I found it rather amusing to watch. So all in all the Punch London Club Maduro isn't going to win any prizes for beauty, or outstanding taste, but the smoke itself will obscure it's competitors. Here is my final score:

Appearance: 6/10

Aroma Unsmoked: 8/10

Construction: 7/10

Flavor: 7/10

Smoke: 10/10

Overall: 7.6

Fondest Regards,

A little Linguine, a little Crab Mushroom, aaaaaay fuget aboud it!

So I have been on a recipe epiphany for the past few weeks, coming up with some great new ideas that have turned into truly delicious meals, and I would like to share two of my newest and most delicious creations with you. Enjoy.

Linguine with Bacon & Mushroom Cream Sauce

1 box of Linguine, we prefer Barilla
1 lb. Bacon
2 8oz. Sliced Mushrooms
1 Pint of Heavy Whipping Cream
1 Stick of Butter
1/4 Cup of Sour Cream
Salt, Pepper, & Garlic Powder to taste

Cut your bacon into bite size pieces. Brown the bacon and mushrooms together in a large pan until the bacon is cooked but not super crisp, and the mushrooms and soft. Drain the excess grease from your pan and then return it to your stove top. Add the whipping cream and the stick of butter to your bacon and mushroom mixture and combine until the butter is melted and the mixture has become creamy, probably around five minutes over medium high heat. Taste your mixture and then season to taste with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. By this time your noodles should be cooked, so drain them, but do not rinse them, and then add your noodles to the cream sauce and combine. Enjoy.

Crab Stuffed Mushrooms

4-6 Large Portobello Mushroom Caps
1 Container of Whipped Cream Cheese
1 Cup of shredded Swiss or Gruyere cheese
The Juice of 1 Fresh Lemon
8oz. Lump Crab Meat
Panko Bread Crumbs
Olive Oil
Salt, Pepper, & Garlic Powder to taste
Parsley & Paprika for garnish

First I have to tell you that these are amazing, addictive, and extremely rich. Take your crab and go through it making sure to pick out any remaining pieces of shell. Rinse your crab and pat dry if you have purchased pre packaged crab meat. Combine your cream cheese, Swiss or Gruyere cheese, lemon juice, and crab meat. Salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. Let set up in the fridge for approximately 30 minutes. While your crab mixture is chilling take your mushroom caps and clean them thoroughly remembering to remove any stem pieces present. Brush the outer parts of the mushroom caps and place them onto a baking sheet. Pour a small amount of olive oil into the bottom of your mushroom caps and then fill the caps with your now chilled crab mixture. Melt 1/2 stick of butter and combine with about a cup of panko bread crumbs. Sprinkle the buttered crumbs over the top of your filled mushroom caps and then sprinkle them with parsley and paprika. Bake at 350 for 30 to 45 minutes or until the bread crumbs are golden brown and delicious. Serve hot and enjoy the rapture that will follow.

I hope you enjoy these recipes and let Shaylen and myself know about your experiences making them.

Fondest Regards,

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Cao La Traviata Divino

Cigar: CAO La Traviata

Size: 5 x 50 (Divino / Robusto)

Wrapper: Habano (Ecuador)

Binder: Cameroon

Filler: Dominican Republic and Nicaragua

Strength: Full

Price: $6.50

First I want to say that I am a big fan of the CAO brand, and the La Traviata was no exception. This extremely affordable cigar went above and beyond many cigars that I have had, and was extremely pleasant to smoke. The appearance of the cigar itself is quite nice, with a classic old world style band, even color, and solid construction. The initial smell of the cigar was sweet and pleasant. Upon lighting the flavors of coffee and anise were immediately present with just a touch of pepper. This little beauty mellowed out after only a few puffs and was extremely consistent throughout with flavors of tea and coffee. The smoke was a milky off white, and was thick, but not overwhelming. The Divino burned perfectly even the entire smoking session, and did not become overly harsh or hot even when I neared the nub. The ash was consistently thick and light gray, and only fell from the cigar when prompted. I smoked this cigar down to ashes, and had a wonderful time doing so. I would definitely recommend the La Traviata to CAO enthusiasts, experienced smokers, and novices alike. The La Traviata would satisfy the full bodied enthusiast and would be an excellent choice for those smokers who are ready for their first dalliance into fuller bodied cigars. I am rating the La Traviata Divino as follows:
Appearance: 9/10
Aroma unsmoked: 9/10
Construction: 10/10
Flavor: 9/10
Fondest regards,

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Staying Warm with Shay's Cheesy Potato Soup!

Well friends, the White Death is upon us again today, and with an overnight low of 6 degrees Fahrenheit, we must make use of our comfort foods!
I tweaked this recipe a few months ago and I thought I would share it with you all, just in case you are FREEZING like us! It is important to remember that these are guidelines, and you must always taste your cooking, and make it your own!

Shay's Cheesy Potato Soup

-1lb. pack of bacon, chopped

-2 medium-large white onions, diced

-1-2 cloves chopped (or 1-2 tbsp minced) garlic (in a pinch, you can skip this and season to taste with garlic powder later)

-3/4 c. white wine or domestic beer (may omit if you don't like this flavor)

-5lb. bag of red potatoes, diced. You may peel if you like, but I don't.

-2 2lb. cartons of chicken stock

-1 2lb. "loaf" of velveeta

-2 pints heavy whipping cream

-1 bunch green onions (for garnish, may omit)

-Shredded cheddar cheese (for garnish, may omit)

Chop up a pack of bacon and fry it in a LARGE stock pot. Remove the bacon from grease and set aside.

De-glaze the pot with some (no more than 3/4 cup) white wine or domestic beer.

In bacon grease, cook two chopped onions until they begin to become translucent. Add garlic towards the end of this phase, but not too early (so you avoid burning it).

Add chopped red potatoes, and add enough chicken stock to cover them (usually at least 1.5 large cartons, might be up to 2).

Cook the potatoes.

Add chopped velveeta and heavy whipping cream. You will add the heavy whipping cream as needed/to taste. The amount you need will vary based on how much bacon grease you end up with, how much of everything else you used, etc. Basically, you're aiming for creamy, rich, and unhealthy!!!

Let ingredients mix thoroughly.

Season to taste with salt, pepper, garlic powder, etc. At this point, you may want to add some of the shredded cheddar to thicken things up, or make it more cheesy.

Serve topped with bacon, shredded cheddar, and green onions (if desired).

We Poor Connoisseurs like to enjoy this with soup accompanied by "Cheddar Bay" Biscuits. (You can find the biscuit recipe on a box of Bisquick, add some shredded cheese to the dough, and then top with garlic butter and parsley.)

Most importantly, ENJOY! Also, if you take a statin-blocker, you might want to double up your dose before this meal!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Diamine Lavender Fountain Pen Ink

Diamine Lavender is a great color! This is a lovely shade of purple that is nice and cheery without being over the top or in your face. Diamine's take on lavender is perfect for Spring, but is also dark enough not to be an annoyingly difficult to read novelty ink.

This ink behaves really well, though may be just a bit on the dry side. The drying time was very acceptable, and on Rhodia, Lavender exhibits no feathering or show-through. There is some shading, but in the grand inky scheme of things, it is not going to win awards for it. This ink is definitely NOT waterproof!
This ink is a good middle of the road purple, not too red or too blue. As far as red/blue qualities go, it compares well to the Purple Varsity, but Lavender is obviously lighter in shade.

All in all, this ink has become a quick favorite. I procured this one in an ink sample exchange, and I definitely want a full bottle when the time comes. Yet another winner from Diamine!