Sunday, January 24, 2016

2016 sticker organization system

Large sticker books

In my previous post about my newly organized writing desk and study, I mentioned I had a new organization system for stickers and stamps, and that I was considering separate blog posts about said organizational systems. Blog readers were so enthusiastic about that prospect that I must deliver! So here's a look at my new organization system for stickers.

A little background: I have a lot of stickers. You will see that in this post. I use them almost exclusively for mail and mail art, decorating envelopes, letters, postcards, etc. Previously they were fairly loose and unorganized, floating through desk drawers and scattered on my desk in piles and mis-matched envelopes... they were a mess. I could never find anything. I would say, "hey, this person loves owls, I know I have some adorable tiny owl stickers somewhere," and then I would root through desk drawers searching for them. It was a waste of time. I always meant to organize my stickers, but it was a pretty huge project. As I was setting up my writing desk, I had both energy and inspiration, and decided to do it. I should have taken photos of all the piles of my stickers as they were spread out across the entire study floor, but I didn't. Oh well.

So, my current system involves the following components, all of which I will show and explain:
  • Large sticker books
  • Small sticker books / boxes of stickers
  • Loose stickers sorted by theme in pocket dividers in a 3-ring binder
  • Loose stickers sorted by theme in drawers

    Above we have the large sticker books, all together at last. They are all the same size, mostly but not exclusively from Dover. I am particularly fond of the Edward Gorey and Kliban cat sticker books. These live on top of my stationery shelves, normally tucked in next to my mail organizer. (If you want to see the whole setup in contect, see my previous post about my newly organized writing desk and study.)

    Small sticker books and label boxes

    Small sticker books and sticker boxes, which fortunately are all about the same size, are stacked in a pile on top of the stationery shelves, right next to my writing desk. This seems haphazard and isn't completely ideal, but I have in my head a fairly accurate idea of which stickers live there. The small books are almost all Dover, and include essentials like the Glitter old-time cats and kittens stickers (kitty kitsch!) and the Cavallini Par Avion Tin. There are also a couple of random notebooks and journals in there. Ooops. Nothing's perfect, folks!

    Sticker binder: fauna and mythical creatures

    And now, the meat of the matter: loose stickers. These were the biggest nightmare. I do not assert that my system is ideal, and I created it on the fly with materials on hand: a 3-ring binder and a few extra plastic 3-pocket postcard holders. Each pocket has a theme, and here we have fauna (glitter and non-glitter) and fantasy/mythical creatures (hello, unicorns!). You can see through to some of the pages behind it. I will spare you each and every one of the sections, but others include glitter/sparkle stars and rainbows, bats/Halloween, flora, objects, etc. This system clearly still has flaws, a major one being that it's very easy for stickers to fall out the top, so I'm careful when I'm handle it. A minor flaw is that I still have to pull them out of the sections to find something, but it is less of a hassle than rooting through entire drawers as it used to be.

    Sticker drawer: cats

    The drawers still contain loose stickers, but each drawer has its own exclusive theme: the largest themes of the lot. This drawer holds exclusively CAT STICKERS. Ha. 'Nuff said.

    Sticker drawer: mail / writing, snowflakes

    The other drawer has one main theme with a smaller unrelated subset. The main theme is mail / meta / writing (air mail labels, mail-themed stickers, stamp-themed stickers, stickers of pens, etc) and the minor theme is snowflakes, because I tend to use a lot of snowflake stickers, and I like them close at hand.

    So there you have it. My system is highly idiosyncratic and tailored to my own tastes and collections, but so far it is working extremely well for me. I'm curious to see how this system holds up over time; I am sure I will develop some complaints, but it's better than a mess of unorganized stickers!
  • Monday, January 18, 2016

    New study and writing desk setup

    Oberon explores the stationery shelves

    We moved five months ago, and it has taken me this long (remember how grad school ate my life?) to get my writing desk and workspace set up in my new study. Oberon and Stella were gracious enough (or curious enough) to help me with this little photo shoot, and above you can see Oberon sniffing around near that one empty shelf cubby on my paper and stationery shelves. (How long will it stay empty? Hmmm...)

    New study and writing desk

    Here's a closer look at the writing desk itself. Yes, that is a towering stack of boxed postcards on the desk, and on the bulletin board above the desk, some of my favorite received mail and mail art.

    For the first time in many years, I have a room of my own, and I won't go so far as to say I've finished the entire study -- sections of the room are carefully omitted from these photos, because they're still a mess -- but I'm thrilled to have my letter-writing materials all set up and organized.

    In the future, maybe I'll need to do a blog post about how intensely I've organized my stamps and stickers now, in a way they've never been organized before; this deep organization project is something I've long been itching to do. It's really exciting and it took me many hours to achieve, with stamps and stickers spread out all over the floor, but I finally know exactly where to find everything. Not only is it efficient, but after years of having things all jumbled together, it's also very satisfying.

    Stella in my new study

    I'm thrilled to have natural light nearby. My writing desk in DC was shoved into a dark corner, and not an entirely lovely place to write... but it wasn't an entirely lovely apartment, either. Here, I have my own room, and nice big window right next to the desk. And that's Stella on the floor, walking towards me as I take the photo.

    Best of all, this setup makes me really want to write letters! Today is my last day of winter break (back to school tomorrow), so I'd better carpe diem while I still have the time.

    Saturday, January 2, 2016

    Missive Maven on Etsy reopened for 2016!

    As long as there are postmen, life will have zest

    Happy New Year! I hope everyone is as excited about 2016 as I am. I think it's going to be a wonderful year.

    As one of my first major mail actions of the year, I have FINALLY re-opened my Etsy shop! I closed it when we moved in August, and while I had every intention of opening it again in September, my first semester schedule in grad school was just too punishing. I have a lighter course load for the second semester, so I'll have time to tend to any etsy orders that come in... and I finally got my shop inventory a little organized in my study at home. So, for anyone who's been waiting, or curious, pop on over to Missive Maven on Etsy and have a look around.

    Pictured above is one of my favorite designs, Zesty French Postman, which is available as pack of 5 postcards, a set of 3 notecards, or as part of the Combination postcard pack.

    May 2016 be a year of fabulous mail!

    Thursday, December 31, 2015

    Holiday mail: Fa la la humbug

    In Portland, #Maine with a #postbox from Japan

    That's me with a Japanese postbox in Portland, Maine this month. Alex and I took a little day trip to Maine, and we stopped in Portland; I couldn't resist running across the street to check out that red postbox. (It was given to Portland in 1989 from its Japanese sister city of Shingawa, but I have no idea why.) And then I asked him to photograph me with it.

    Yes, grad school ate my life, and I haven't been blogging or writing much mail, but now that I'm on break between semesters, I've been digging back into mail as much as I'm able. It's been a great way to unwind, and although I'm still not doing as much of it as I'd like, it's great to return for a while!

    Outgoing holiday cards 2015

    I've also greatly surprised myself (and many others) by an urge to send a few holiday cards again. I know, weird for me, huh? In years past I have even posted about why I don't do holiday cards, but this year I was really feeling like less of a scrooge. I think it is because I lived and worked in a place for 7 years where I was required to attend religious ceremonies against my faith, and attending multiple Christmas services against my will was part of that. It was, frankly, a traumatic experience. I think it has taken me this long to "heal" from that (it was 3 years ago, going backwards, when we lived in Newport, RI), and finally I can approach the holidays without quite so much bitterness. And I found it was a time I just wanted to say hello, and send warm greetings, just short notes to let folks know I was thinking about them. I've written over 60 so far, and because they're holiday cards (New Year's can last well into January!), I'm continuing to write them, and enjoying the process.

    Happy mailing, and happy endings to 2015!

    Sunday, November 29, 2015

    ...of serious mail neglect...

    I wish I had something interesting to say, other than "grad school ate my life." But, really:

    Grad school continues to eat my life.

    I didn't even read my mail for over a month, let alone write any. It was a little sad, from a mail and postal perspective, but I assure you I was happy and fulfilled with much music.

    However, there was a pen-pal / mail-sized hole in my life, and on this, my mini-Thanksgiving break, I did manage to read 6 weeks worth of mail (not that much, really, since I haven't been sending any), and even write a bunch of letters and postcards, too.

    So, I'm not dead, I'm just buried in grad school and music. I have a longer break in December/January, and I look forward to spending more time with mail then, when I am between semesters and without quite so many obligations, assignments, and performances hanging over my head.

    I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving, and happy mailing, all!

    Friday, October 2, 2015

    I was worried this would happen...

    #newenglandconservatory convocation this morning. #jordanhall never ceases to amaze me. And then they gave everyone a free t-shirt at the reception afterwards!

    Wow, is this my longest interval between posts ever? Oh no. I can explain:


    I'm enrolled in the maximum number of credit hours, serving as a TA for a challenging class taught by a brilliant professor, going to as many (mostly free!) concerts as I can, and trying to collaborate with as many other musicians as I can. I commute via train (in fact, I'm posting this from a train now: thank you, Amtrak wi-fi!) and subway and foot or bike, and I have to plan on a door-to-door travel time of a little over 2 hours, each way. I'm doing this commute almost every weekday. I get weekends mostly at home, but I spend a lot of weekend time practicing and staying on top of my coursework.

    I am happy as a clam, folks, and loving every minute of it - living and breathing music, and not taking one iota of it for granted - but I really have to prioritize right now. I am not writing many letters or postcards... in fact, I am loathe to admit this but perhaps sharing it publicly will help me get it done: I haven't even finished unpacking my stationery or my etsy inventory! I'm searching for balance, and am still taking some serious time to unwind by writing a little bit of mail here and there, but... I don't think I'll be blogging much until I have a break. (Maybe lots of blog posts and lots of mail over the winter holidays?)

    I did visit a great little stationery store on a wee getaway to Maine last month, and I took a couple of photos and got some great stationery (of course I couldn't walk away empty-handed, even though I'm hardly writing any letters these days!) so I hope to post about that next. But maybe get my stationery fully unpacked and organized, and re-open my etsy store, first!

    I hope everyone is enjoying a lovely fall, full of good mail.

    The photo accompanying this post is of the gorgeous Jordan Hall at New England Conservatory, where I'm studying, and I took the photo at convocation in early September.

    Monday, July 27, 2015

    Moving soon, etsy store soon on hiatus

    In mid-August I'll be moving to lovely New Hampshire. I can't wait! I love New England and I'm so excited to be back up there again... but I really dislike the actual moving part, especially long-distance moves. (But really, does anyone ENJOY moving?)

    It's time to pack all my stuff. Ugh. Packing stationery is not so hard, it's not fragile and it lays nice and flat in a box. Packing fountain pen inks, not so fun. Anyhoo, I'm going to leave my Etsy shop open a while longer, but eventually I will have to close the etsy store briefly while items are packed and being moved.

    If you've had a yen to pick up any of my writing themed goods from Missive Maven on etsy, now is the time. I don't know the exact date I'll close the shop yet, but it will be sometime in early August... depends on how the packing goes.

    My etsy shop isn't closing for good, of course: I'll re-open once everything is settled and unpacked in our new location.

    Wish me luck packing!

    Friday, July 17, 2015

    Happy 10th birthday, Postcrossing!

    Bremen town musicians #postmark on #postcrossing #Postcard from Germany #showandmail

    Happy birthday, Postcrossing! I've been an enthusiastic Postcrossing participant for more than 9 years now -- almost the entire time Postcrossing has existed, and certainly longer than I've had this blog -- and it's enriched my life in more ways than I can say. Postcrossing is now 10 years old and I invite you to explore their birthday celebration, and if you've never checked out Postcrossing before but you're curious, I highly encourage you to take this opportunity to do so.

    The photo above shows a postcard from Germany I recently received via Postcrossing. I often show the postcard image or the postage stamp in a blog post, and in this case both of them were fairly pedestrian, but wow - what a NEAT postmark! It shows the Bremen Town Musicians, a fairy tale that has made the German town of Bremen famous. It's certainly what I think of when I think of Bremen, and as soon as I saw this postmark I recognized the icon and the story. This is just another fine example of all the wonderful surprises that Postcrossing brings.

    Saturday, June 27, 2015

    June 26, 2015: Historic day for equality in the USA!

    Image via Newsweek

    Yesterday - June 26, 2015 - was a history day for civil rights, equality, and LGBT rights in the USA.

    On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the USA ruled that everyone has a right to marry.

    Many of us knew the decision was to be announced yesterday, and along with millions of others worldwide, I awaited the decision. I wish I could have been downtown (I currently live in Washington, DC - capital of the USA, home of the Supreme Court and the White House, pictured above) with the revelers, but when the decision was announced, I was alone in my office at my day job. I started crying when I learned the news. Friends and family called, texted, and emailed throughout the day, and I went around crying and hugging my co-workers. When I came out nearly 20 years ago, I never imagined I'd see this day in my lifetime. This is an amazing victory and I think June 26 should become a national queer/LGBTQ holiday!

    All kinds of wonderful support was evident yesterday, and continues to be so. Last night the White House, home of President Barack Obama and the First Family, lit up in rainbow lights in support of the decision - pictured above.

    This post has nothing to do with mail, but it has so much to do with my life, and I had to share the joy. As I have mentioned before (see "I'm a day late for National Coming Out Day" or the labels gay or transgender for more info), my husband Alex is transgender and I am bisexual; we identify as a queer couple, not straight. We are legally married already, but that is really only through luck. Alex happened to be born in a state that, for a certain period of time, allowed folks to change their birth certificates, and he got his birth certificate changed at the right time to allow us to marry legally. This would not have been possible if he hadn't been able to change his birth certificate, and if he hadn't been able to jump through all the hoops to change his gender legally from female to male, on the right documents (birth certificate, driver's license, passport, etc: a different process for all). I'm not going to go into all the details about that, but we were one of the few queer couples who was lucky enough to achieve that legal status. Yesterday that right was granted to all couples in love in the USA, regardless of gender - no more discrimination. All our friends and loved ones can marry if they wish, and those who have already married in states that previously allowed it will now be granted all the federal benefits, and their marriages must be recognized all across the country... even in the states that had previously explicitly banned and refused to recognize their unions.

    Please join me in celebrating this occasion that holds immeasurable joy!

    UPDATE: It is worth noting that just moments after my tweet about this blog post, I received my first homophobic hate tweet. It is hardly that bad, but it is noteworthy nonetheless. We are going to see a lot of backlash to this decision from those haters. Haters gonna hate. Buckle your seatbelts, because we are in it for the long ride.


    Tuesday, June 23, 2015

    India releases International Day of Yoga stamp

    Thanks to PhilatelyNews on Twitter, I've just learned about this FANTASTIC new stamp release from India: International Day of Yoga stamp.

    June 21 was recently declared International Yoga Day by the UN General Assembly. I may not write about it very often on this blog (if at all?), but yoga is another of my favorite hobbies, or perhaps better stated, lifestyle and fitness habits; I've been practicing yoga seriously for about 5 years now. So I was extremely excited to see this stamp release that showcases an essential part of India's heritage (and I recognize here that India comprises many different cultures!)... which also happens to be something that has changed my life and health.

    Also, it's a lovely stamp! I actually like the selvage around the stamp even better than the stamp itself, particularly the colorful representation of the various asanas, or poses. I am also delighted that they kept the figure on the stamp gender-neutral. Yoga is for everyone, and for every body.

    If any of my blog readers are in India and would be willing or able to send me mail with this stamp, please let me know! I'd love to do an exchange. I'd be so excited to see this stamp in person!

    Does anyone else know of some cool yoga stamps out there?

    UPDATE: Philatelist blog-reader Albrecht shared this other yoga series from India, 1991 issue.