back-to-school supplies for mom

by | Sep 14, 2021 | art supplies, Artistic Endeavors, Creative Play, Fall, Favorite Finds | 30 comments

Back-to-school is such an exciting time.  We make sure the pants are not high-waters, everyone gets a new pair of shoes, and we get to go shopping for pens, pencils, notebooks, and hand sanitizer.  But, we also need to take a minute to acknowledge that it’s such a hard time for moms.  The house is so quiet and clean and there isn’t anything to do but sit around and be sad until your kids come bounding home from school, ready to eat a snack the size of a meal.  It’s just a really rough time and moms deserve some consolation goodies to fill up that quiet, clean hole her kids leave in the house all day.

When we get the boys’ supplies ready for back-to-school, we take an inventory of things we already have and then shop for the things that aren’t crossed off the list.  Moms are exempt from this method, of course.  It doesn’t matter if she actually “needs” pens, pencils, watercolors, nibs, or rulers.  The house is now too quiet for tasks like inventories and, honestly, one pen is nothing like the other.  Sometimes you need a short ruler or a long one or an antique brass ruler from England.  (And, don’t even get me going on “textbooks.”)  Mom will only acknowledge she has too many books and supplies when she does a no-spend February and spends the better part of March organizing her studio.  But not in September!  In September, we get to do a little back-to-school shopping, too.

art supplies | sealing wax | choosing keeping | kaweco | miss mustard seed

Of course, I’m smiling (and dripping with sarcasm) as I write this.  But, it sounds good, right?  Yes, honey, I needed another fountain pen because…sniff…it’s just so hard that my babies are starting eighth and ninth grade.  I need to journal about it a lot with a Kaweco Brass Sport Fountain Pen with an extra-fine nib

Jeff is so used to books and supplies coming to the house that he doesn’t blink at a pile of boxes on the porch and I don’t even need to bother with excuses, but I can have that one at the ready.

In all seriousness, I found a lovely stationery & art shop in London, Choosing Keeping, and couldn’t resist ordering a few things from them.  I also got a few antique goodies earlier this summer from my friend Julia of Ponder & Purchase.  She’s become a dear friend (I can’t wait to visit her in person), but also the best kind of enabler.  Through Choosing Keeping, I was introduced to the German-based Kaweco pens, pencils & accessories and now I’m smitten with their products.  It’s been one lovely little art supply snowball that started when my Instagram friend Heather of Sweet Shady Lane sent me a picture of some blue and green sealing wax sticks.

sealing wax | choosing keeping | miss mustard seed

I have actually wanted to get some sealing wax and a seal for a long time, but I never found colors of wax enticing enough to buy.  Well, these were speaking my language, so I bought a couple of sealing wax sticks and a seal with a French ribbon motif from Choosing Keeping.

I also got a tin of Coccoina paste.  It’s an almond-based glue that seriously smells like almond extract.  I love that it comes in this sweet little tin with a brush.  It’s supposed to be a great all-purpose glue for paper and mixed media.

coccoina almond paste | choosing keeping | miss mustard seed

coccoina almond paste | choosing keeping | miss mustard seed

I treated myself to this set of beautiful plant-based natural watercolors

The color palette is just perfect for me and I love testing out new pigments and paints.

natural plant-based watercolors | miss mustard seed

They have found a good home in a little cubby in my antique Reeves art box

natural plant-based watercolors | miss mustard seed

natural plant-based watercolors | miss mustard seed

watercolor sketchbook by ETCHR | antique ceramic palette

I was most excited about trying Woad watercolor.  I read an article about dying yarns and fabrics with woad a few years ago and I was completely on board when I saw it was available as a paint!

natural woad watercolor paint | miss mustard seed

And, the Kaweco pens and pencils…  They are so delicious!  I bought a brass pencil clutch and a white Sport Classic fountain pen.  They are weighted so well and I love the way the ink flows out of the nib.

kaweco brass pencil clutch | miss mustard seed

kaweco brass pencil clutch | miss mustard seed

If you’re looking to get into fountain pens, you know, because you really need some comfort during this season, the Kaweco Classic Sport is a great model to start with.  It’s nice, but not crazy expensive (less than $20.)

kaweco sport fountain pen | miss mustard seed

You can also get a converter cartridge (so you can use any kind of fountain pen ink) and nibs of different sizes.  I tend to like extra-fine.  I loved their products so much that I bought a .5 brass mechanical pencil and a brass Sport fountain pen.

kaweco sport fountain pen | miss mustard seed

I also love these paper scissors from Choosing Keeping.  Aren’t they lovely?  In all seriousness, I do feel like you can always use a good pair of scissors when you work with paper or fabric.

choosing keeping paper scissors | miss mustard seed

The brass protractor is from Ponder & Purchase as well as the wooden nib box.

antique brass protractor | miss mustard seed

And, I got a pan of natural indigo watercolor (I actually bought this a long time ago and it was on back-order, so I finally received it late last week)…

genuine indigo watercolor | miss mustard seed

…and some genuine natural indigo pigment to try to make some of my own oil and watercolor paint.  Because I need more hobbies and little pet projects.

genuine indigo pigment powder | miss mustard seed

And, of course, I got a brush.  Because nothing cheers me up when I’m alone in a quiet, clean house like a paintbrush.

japanese gradation brush | miss mustard seed

Actually, I thought the construction of this particular brush was fascinating and I just needed to see it in person!  I had actually spotted one of these in a random photo and tried to find one (not really knowing what I was looking for.)  I figured it was a Japanese brush, so I was searching phrases like Japanese brush, Japanese brush on tongs, and small brush tied between two sticks.  Shockingly, I didn’t find this brush.

It is described as a Japanese printing and colour gradation brush, but I’m still not really sure what it’s used for and how it’s used!  I’ll have to do a bit of research.  It would make a good blending brush or mark-making brush.  It also seems akin to a stencil brush.

japanese gradation brush | miss mustard seed

japanese gradation brush | miss mustard seed

I just know that it’s cool and I’m going to have a good time figuring it out.

japanese gradation brush | miss mustard seed

I have loved school, art, and office supplies since I was a little girl and it is so fitting that I get to have a whole hoard of them as tools-of-the-trade.



  1. Jenn Anderson

    I enjoy all your supply shopping! I like all these kinds of things too but don’t have time to use them or excuses to buy them, so I just enjoy seeing yours. Thanks!

    • Marian Parsons

      Well, I can shop for the both of us, then! 😂

  2. Jill McDowell

    I want to go back to school shopping with you. Your list makes me happy. I have been wanting to try the cocconia paste. I love my Japanese brushes. I use them all the time to stencil using ink from ink pads. The small ones make it so easy to color in the details.

  3. Jennifer Baker

    Your photos are so gorgeous! What kind of camera and lens are you using for these?!

    • Marian Parsons

      I am using a Nikon D850 and 50mm Nikon lens. The lens is pretty inexpensive, but the camera is a full=frame professional camera, so it is pretty spendy!

  4. Bea

    Loved reading this post, especially your sarcasm! Well, I was an elementary school teacher for over 25 years and I do recall that I heard many mom’s were rejoicing that school was starting in the fall. I used to think that those moms had no idea what it was like to spend 5 days a week with about 30 young children most of the day. Now I love being in my quiet house while working on projects or putting price tags on my inventory because elementary school classrooms can be the opposite of quiet!

    • Marian Parsons

      Oh my goodness, good for you! I only got a tiny taste of teaching in a classroom when I did substitute teaching for a couple of years. I wasn’t working full-time, so I would sub for a little extra spending money. I did it enough to know I wouldn’t want to do it all the time! 🙂 I think teaching children is a special calling.

      • Bea

        Believe me, I knew I wanted to retire when I did and not try to make it to 30 years! I’ve been able to have my retail shops and now continue to dabble in the home decor business and I enjoy that for now.

  5. Mayanna

    Artists always love getting new (more) supplies. I am awaiting two tubes of Daniel Smith Watercolor paint as I write this. Amazon says it will be here Friday. Can hardly wait!!!

    • Laurie

      I can so relate (even though I’m a gma) … I have a very artsy granddaughter who will throw art supplies in the basket when we shop together. I can’t resist putting in a couple watercolor pads and new brushes for myself toooo 😉

  6. Sandy

    You are such a hoot. Your cheerfulness is also such a blessing. Enjoy your goodies!

  7. Sharon

    I smelled almonds as soon as your first picture started to scroll up on my screen! We sold the paste during my early days with Paper Source, back when it was truly an artisan oriented company.

  8. Judy Whitman

    Years ago I had the chance to spend a week in France on a French General trip, and you would have loved it! We spent a whole day dyeing fabrics with woad. Such a fascinating history, and a gorgeous color. Hope you get the chance to do it one day. You would love it!!

    • Margarita W.

      Oh my gosh I took the same trip to France in 2014 with Karri from French General! Denise Lambert taught the class. It was wonderful learning about Woad and dying with it in those large vats outside amongst the trees. It produces a beautiful shade of blue.

  9. Julia - Ponderandpurchase

    Let me know when you need another “fix” although there are some great goodies en route. We’re going to have so much fun exploring these shops in person when you finally get to England x

  10. Heather Farrar

    I recognize that brush from my textile classes in college. They were used in a Katazome class. Which is a Japanese technique that involves hand making a stencil and rice paste as a dye resist. So yes, akin to a stencil brush. I was also drawn to the look of those brushes. Art supplies make me happy.

    • Marian Parsons

      Thanks for the great information! That makes a lot of sense and yes, I love the look of it too. Such an interesting and creative design. Sigh…beautiful supplies.

  11. Les volets framboise

    So funny ! Tell me, Marian, does your excuse works for shoes and dresses too ? Please, tell me yes ! (and, in France when I was a kid, we all had those little glue pots with a spatula stored in the middle of the pot. Oh, this almond perfume !)

  12. Anita

    what fun! I love seeing the interesting choices you make, and you give me lots of new ideas. I also bought some new supplies recently, a couple of new lead holders, with leads of different hardness, and a whole “raft” of open stock Polychromos pencils (mostly duplicates for my stash) I stilll “need” another new ink pen, and a new camera lens is on the list. Moms need fun too.:-)

  13. Jo

    I’m jealous!! Please keep us posted on how the paste works. I’m very interested. Also the water colors. Such cool stuff.

  14. Monica Duelley

    “Mom” school supplies are so much more fun, aren’t they? That silver dip pen is the most gorgeous thing I’ve seen in a long time. I’m keeping my eyes out for one!

  15. Mary E

    Thanks for the heads up on the Kaweco Sports Classic Fountain Pen. I’ve had a LAMY for several years now and I’m afraid I’ve ruined it. I let it dry out and no amount of soaking the head/nib has helped. So do you need the converter to use regular ink cartridges in the Kaweco Sports Pen? I do love using fountain pens.

    • Miss Mustard Seed

      I have a couple of Lamy fountain pens and those are a good inexpensive option, too. I have one that dried out as well and I can’t get it working again. For the Kaweco Sport, you can use an ink cartridge (by Kaweco or one that is a standard size) or the converter if you want to be able to choose your own ink. I get the converter, because I like to be able to use an ink that’s waterproof.

      • Monica Duelley

        I wonder if a little soak in Goo-Gone would clean up the nib? I know it took nasty car door grease out of chiffon prom dress without a trace, thus averting a teenager’s catastrophe a few years ago!

      • Monica Duelley

        I see there’s also a product called “Pen Flush.” I checked, and Goo-Gone will work on dried ink.

        • LauraT

          Look for Goulet Pens on Youtube, they have great videos on cleaning and using fountain pens! I currently own five Kaweco sports. . .

    • Cathy R

      I too, have a LAMY pen and I believe The Paper Seahorse in Tampa has jibs that fit.

  16. Charlotte

    Oh my goodness… I’m such a sucker for a office supplies and art supplies… some of my favorite things to buy!!!! Thank you for sharing! As a kid, I had a fountain pen that I used because I wanted to be “professional and fancy”- plus in elementary/middle school it was a thing where I grew up to practice your handwriting and compare with your friends and classmates. And I’ve always wanted to try sealing my Christmas cards with wax! That scene in “Practical Magic” where Sandra Bullock’s character is writing a letter and she seals it with wax? I always thought that was the COOLEST and still do as an adult!

  17. Nancy Skora

    Dear Marian, I don’t know how to get a hold of you anymore, other than to leave a comment!
    I haven’t been receiving anymore blogs as a subscriber since the first of September. I had this issue once before so I do not know what is going on. I sure love keeping up with Your Blog, so many wonderful inspirations. Please advise.

  18. Cathy R

    Yea…make that *nibs* not jibs; we’re not sailing here!😳


Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…

Let's Connect


Subscribe today

and receive a FREE e-version of my planning sheets!

decorating, projects, and recipes for Summer

  • mexican lasagna bake aka burrito cake recipe
    I love recipes that are…quick to make, can be made in one pot, are easy to adjust to different food preferences, and are delicious!  Such is the case with this […]
  • the best strawberry rhubarb crisp
    We have an absolutely wonderful next-door neighbor.  She has blown snow out of our driveway when Jeff was unable to, she has saved Calvin’s bike from sitting out on the […]
  • decorating with shells
    As I collected shells at the beach this spring, the question I was asked most often is, “What do you do with them?”  And I get that question!  When we […]
  • Isle of Palms 2022
    I thought I would share a little bit more about our time at Isle of Palms this year.  If you’d like to read about our trip last year and the […]


Articles by Date


our sponsors



Bliss and Tell Branding Company


Pin It on Pinterest

Share This