Thursday, December 18, 2014

Best Hanukkah card EVER

Best Hanukkah card EVER!

The fabulous PostMuse made my day, and made my Hanukkah, with this: the best Hanukkah card ever. I can't find a direct link to the card, but it is from Alternate Histories. You may have read my On holiday cards page, so you may know I'm not big into holiday foo-fa-la, and I get especially grinch-like at the misconception that Hanukkah is as big a deal for Jews as Christmas is for Christians. It's actually a very minor holiday. But lighting candles is fun (I love candles), and PostMuse got it spot-on with this wonderful card!

Stella's rival: a Hanukkah candle

We're enjoying "kittens' first Hanukkah" in our household. Oberon has a healthy fear of candles, but Stella exhibits a morbid (and slightly masochistic) fascination with the flames. On the first night, she ended up extinguishing the candle by pawing it. After we wiped her paw down with a cool cloth, she was right back at the Menorah for more action. Fortunately, last night she slept through the candle lighting. Wish us luck with Stella and fire safety throughout the rest of Hanukkah and the future.

Happy Hanukkah, everyone! Chag sameach to all who celebrate the holiday.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Letter Writers Alliance Live Video Social on Dec. 13

I just found out about this wonderful virtual Letter-Writing Social TOMORROW - Saturday, December 13 - via the Letter Writers Alliance.

Watch the handy video above, read about it on the LWA blog, and participate on Twitter with the hashtag #LWASocial all day long tomorrow, Saturday, December 13.

I am a HUGE fan of the Letter Writers Alliance, and a super-huge fan of their virtual letter-writing socials, where anyone in the world can participate via Twitter. It is inspiring to see others sharing community, writing letters (and occasionally tweeting fun photos of mail), and this will have a cool added live video component where Donovan and Kathy, LWA founders and powerhouses, will be answering live Twitter questions and writing mail. And they'll be doing it from their super-cool mail-marvelous LWA studio space with a portable fireplace! (I'm really into that. I long for a letter-writing studio of my own... especially with a fireplace.) For those of you who are into that sort of thing (and I realize this is the vast majority of my readership, just minus me), they'll be writing their holiday cards during the event - and I suspect this is a prime time for a lot of others to be sharing in similar epistolary enjoyment.

I'll be participating via Twitter - I'll take some breaks for yoga and kitten time, but otherwise this is a GREAT excuse to make tomorrow a dedicated mail day. I hope to see you there tomorrow, and share in the mail love!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Russian Rainbow Circus Stamp

Russian Rainbow Circus Stamp

I recently received this spectacular stamp on a Postcrossing postcard from Russia. The postcard was less memorable, but that stamp is a keeper. I know lots of folks are creeped out by clowns, and this one hardly looks harmless, but somehow the combination of excessive rainbows makes it an absolute winner. And the bear on the bike? Priceless!

One of my favorite things about Postcrossing is receiving these fascinating postage stamps from all over the world; in many cases, the stamps are a lot more interesting than the postcards!

Friday, December 5, 2014

'Tis the season

Oh my goodness, I have been a bad blogger and have not posted in far too long! Now it's time to post my seasonal reminder, for new blog readers who may not have been exposed to my little "bah humbug" quirks.

While I would not, in general, try to dissuade anyone from sending me good wishes in postal form, I do not celebrate Christmas and I do not send holiday cards. It is just not my thing, for a wide variety of reasons.

Want to know more? Read a more in-depth explanation: A word on holiday cards, or, why I don't do Christmas

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Habits: how I keep my letter log

Letter log received: Always the same pen and ink

I am a creature of habit, and when I find one I like and that serves me well, I am pretty good at sticking with it. So I have kept the same letter log habit for many years, and I was reflecting upon it this morning so I thought I'd share my thoughts.

I've blogged before about how I keep my letter log, and that has evolved over the years so you can sort of see that evolution in those blog posts, but I explained my method in great detail in my 2011: a year in mail post.

Not much has changed since then: I still log all my mail in a small black Rhodia Webnotebook (I have many volumes of them at this point!), and log all received items using a Pilot Varsity fountain pen refilled with Noodler's Heart of Darkness ink. I love this method. It is an immediate visual differentiation between sent and received, and I can page through and see the received immediately because I always use this blacker-than-black ink in the same pen with generous flow for the task. (I should note that the Pilot Varsity is a disposable fountain pen, not technically made to be easily refillable but it's quite simple to pull it apart and refill it with whatever ink you like - I explain that a bit in this post - and the pens do eventually die or wear out, but it's just a few bucks to replace with a new one, and their quality control is quite high so it feels just like the same pen.) Above you can see my current letter log, with the Pilot Varsity and that lovely very-black Noodler's Heart of Darkness ink. The letter opener just helps to hold the book open for the photo, but it is always close at hand when I'm logging my mail.

Letter log sent: ink used in letter

I log all sent items in whatever ink I used last for the body of the letter or the postcard, so there is quite a colorful variety there. I don't often use the Noodler's Heart of Darkness for the body of a letter, so it doesn't create any visual confusion in the letter log.

The letters P or L indicate a postcard or a letter, and the numbers indicate how many I've sent that month. It helps me count for my own statistics, which I don't really do much with except note with curiosity how each month varies. I used to post my mail stats on this blog, but it felt too competitive, either with myself or with others, and that is not the point of my enjoyment of mail or this blog, so I discontinued the stat-posting.

I have thought about making a searchable Excel spreadsheet with this information; it would certainly help me find something quickly when I need to look it up. Ultimately, though, I come back to the conclusion that my mail habits are to slow down and get me away from the computer, and every time I've needed to find something in the letter log, I've been able to do so.

So, for now anyway, I'm sticking to my pen and ink habits.

What about you? How do you keep track of your mail?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Who's excited for Halloween?!?

Bat-themed Halloween postcard swap, front

Halloween is my favorite holiday. If you've been following my blog for long, you'll know I've done many, many posts about Halloween and Halloween mail. Partly this is because I adore bats, but also because I just like the spooky autumnal mood. I can't really explain why I love Halloween so much, I just do.

So it tends to be around Halloween that I'll jump back into Swap-bot for a couple of Halloween-type postcard swaps. I just participated in a Bat-themed Halloween postcard swap, which involved a handmade bat postcard. Can do! I had great fun using my bat washi tapes and stickers.

Bat-themed Halloween postcard swap, back

Of course this was a perfect occasion to use one of my brand-new Batman stamps, just issued last week.

Now that I'm posting the photos, I just realized that I never used any of my great bat rubber stamps on it! Oh well, there is plenty more mail (October and otherwise) for that.

Happy Halloween mailing!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

World Post Day: Mail Social Club at the National Postal Museum

Celebrate: Neon sign at National Postal Museum

I celebrated World Post Day at the National Postal Museum with their fabulous Mail Social Club, coordinated by Melissa of Craftgasm. It was one heck of an awesome way to celebrate World Post Day, and I found myself wondering, why haven't I been to one of these before?!? Circumstances in my life conspired against me, but the event is now monthly, and I am sure this was only the first of many I shall attend.

Freebie covers at the National Postal Museum

The evening began with a tour of the stamp gallery with the head Philatelist, which included a very interesting lecture on "covers," aka envelopes. Unfortunately none of my photos of that bit turned out very well, except the photo above of the table of freebie covers - one lovely cover for everyone. I took an aerogramme, because hey, why not? (Canceled stamps don't excite me nearly as much as ones I can use and send.)

Work tables at Mail Social Club

Then, the real fun began! We headed to a lovely education space upstairs, which was a phenomenal workspace for our mail social. The theme of the evening was envelope making, and every table had scissors and envelope templates already set up, including the fabulous 2014 postal rates graphic by Donovan of the LWA. The event was held in a private room, part of the Byrne Education Loft.

Mail Social Club in action

Here you can see the front of the room. Not the greatest photo, I know, but you can sort of get the idea. What you can't see is all the AMAZING FREE MATERIALS that were provided! I knew I would love any mail social, and that it would be a grand event, but I had no idea how very generous Melissa and The National Postal Museum would be. Not only did they provide scissors, envelope templates, glue sticks, and all kinds of awesome envelope-making paper, but they also provided washi tape, used stamps and other embellishments, pens and pencils - more than everything you'd need to make gorgeous envelopes. You could have arrived completely empty-handed and still come away with awesome goodies. Thank you, Melissa and the Postal Museum, for your generosity!

Melissa teaches us about envelope-making

Here is Melissa teaching us how to make envelopes. Check out the very awesome George Washington stamp design on the window behind her! Yes, this is a place for mail geeks to get all nerd-tastic over details such as these.

Making mail

Above, my table at work. Another amazing benefit: meeting other mail geeks, some of whom were already pen pals! I got to meet and share a table with Allison of OMG Crafties and Mary of Uncustomary Art. I am good with candids and casual background photos but very bad with engineering poses, so I'm sorry I don't get to share their smiling lovely faces with you (d'oh! We all should have posed for a photo together! Damn my shy social introversion...), but sharing a table and mail-making with them was beyond fabulous. Mary and Allison were veterans of the Mail Social Club scene, and they knew to bring a lovely array of supplies. Mary also wrote lots of mail while there, which I thought was a pretty neat trick. You don't have to participate in the planned activity, you can just do your own mail thing. I'll have to keep this in mind as it's now getting into the season for people to make (and freak out about) holiday cards, and, well... y'all know how I feel about that scene. But now I know I can just participate in mail camaraderie and ignore the holiday hubbub when the time comes.

I made a short little Vine video of my envelope-making; this is my first time trying to embed a Vine video so we'll see how this goes. (Feedback, anyone? Like the video or is it distracting? I could do more of these in the future, or consider it a novelty. I'm undecided.)

Envelope made at Mail Social Club

Here's one of the envelopes I made at the event. I'd like to note that all these materials - envelope paper, glue stick, washi tape, Canadian butterfly stamp embellishment - were provided at the event!

Making mail at the Mail Social Club

The event was well-attended, with many happy folks making mail and envelopes. The room was alive with chatter, and the organizers even played some good tunes for our working inspiration. I commented to Mary that the only thing that was missing was wine! (I understand well why the National Postal Museum can't provide THAT for free.)

National Postal Museum

I had to leave a bit early and unfortunately couldn't stay for the whole event, but on my way out I snapped this photo of the stamp gallery, alone and quiet at night, with the reflection of the neon "Celebrate" stamp sign. It was certainly a cause for celebration.

From the National Postal Museum

Finally, here's my haul from the event. I was able to get there a bit early and just make it to the post office (within the Postal Museum, of course!) before it closed, and not only was it World Post Day, but it was also the date of release for the brand-new Batman stamps, so even though I pre-ordered them online, I bought myself a couple of sheets right there. (Good thing, too - my pre-order still hasn't arrived yet.) I also picked up these fabulous $2 bobcat stamps, which I'd not seen before, and thought were too awesome to pass up.

So, the final verdict -- the Mail Social Club was utterly marvelous! I am already excited to attend another one. Mark your calendars: the next Mail Social Club is on Thursday, November 13!