Thursday, December 31, 2009

Letter writing blog

Letter writing blog.

Letter writing blog, letter writing blog, letter writing, blog!

What do I need to do for this site to show up on a google search for "letter writing blog?"

'Cause right now it ain't happenin'.

Snail mail swap

Snail Mail envelope swap

Behold the fruit of another swapbot swap: Snail Mail :].

Look, I drew snails!

The idea was to decorate a snail mail envelope with snails - this I can do! (I even tried drawing a couple.)

Snail Mail envelope swap

The instructions directed, "just make sure it is snaily!"

Snail Mail envelope swap

I'm all over snaily... I've got quite a few snail stamps and stickers, but I'm always on the lookout for more.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Cat Postcard Swap: output

Startled kitty?

Remember my first Cat Postcard Swap on Swap-Bot? This is what I sent.

My beloved bought me this postcard for my birthday this year; he saw it in a shop and just thought it was very me. I was saving it for something special, but this definitely qualified.

cat postcard swap

I had the good fortune to get a swap partner who was already a treasured pen pal. (Of course she already blogged about it way before me.) So I made sure to write a good kitty story, and I used an image of each of my cats on the writing side. Soda is in the little sticker in the bottom left-hand corner, and Magic (with pumpkin) and Memo are featured in photo stamps.

My letter helpers

Bestest letter helper

Soda is my bestest letter helper. Here she is sitting on top of a letter to keep it warm. (Letters don't like to be cold.)

Letter-writing company on the couch

Here's a view of my two kitty girls - Magic is the tabby curled up on the left corner of the couch, and Soda is sitting on my lap desk.

This couch view is a typical one in the winter - it's where I sit when I write by the fire. The loud paisley throw is ostensibly to keep the cat fur off the couch, but we only remove it for special guests, so generally I just sit right on top of it. The black case holds my fountain pens.

Just a winter letter-writing view of life in my living room...

Giveaway winner: Lucky 13!

We have a winner of the Yours Ever book giveaway!

Who says 13 is unlucky? This time it's the opposite, as the winning comment # is 13 - LisavVi, Congratulations!

I think I know who you are, but just to be sure, please email me (use the link in my profile, my email is there) with your address before Jan. 2. I hope to pop it in the mail then.

Thanks to all who entered - this was such a success that I will surely be doing another blog giveaway soon.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Blog reader letter: my name in Hebrew

Blog reader letter: my name in Hebrew

A young blog reader** wrote me a letter with my name in Hebrew in the salutation. I have a few blog readers that are sweet to write my name in other characters, but the Hebrew I could actually read! What fun. The vowels are confusing, but then again... Hebrew vowels (or vowel substitutes) are sort of always confusing.

Hebrew hello

I wish I had managed to get the whole line AND her cool horse carousel sticker all in one shot, but I didn't, so two photos will have to do.

**Let no one say that young people don't write letters any more! I get a ton of blog reader letters from the under-25 set. This brings extra joy, to know that new generations of letter enthusiasts, who never knew life without email, are keeping the tradition going.

Last chance to enter giveaway

The Yours Ever book giveaway ends at 12pm EST tomorrow (Wed, 12/30), last chance to enter!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Penpal Party, anyone?

Thanks to a hot tip from Goodnight Little Spoon, I just found out about the very groovy-looking Penpal Party. It is billed as "a letter-writing exchange... for stationery and letter-writing enthusiasts."

NO, I'm not going to join - I have too many other letters of me own that need responses, and I'm very happy with all the letters I write and receive.

But for those of you who are looking for a few more pen pals, or anyone who will write back, really, it looks like a great idea and a great place to start.

The gal who founded it is a designer, and her designs are reeeeeeeeally cute. You can see 'em here, but of course she did the way cute design on Penpal Party, too.

You can even see some fun Penpal Party photos here, too.

If you decide to sign up, let me know how it goes!

UPDATE: This project has been discontinued. You can read the full comments for info.

Reminder: two more days for giveaway

Just a reminder that there are 48 hours left to enter my Yours Ever book giveaway.

Any questions, ask 'em here!

More envelopes made from children's books

Minikin envelope

I made these envelopes for the Letter in a Handmade Envelope #2 swap on Swap-bot.

Awwww!!! Isn't this cute? These pages all came from Minikin by Stephen Cosgrove and Robin James.

Snail sticker on handmade envelope

I loved the Serendipity Books when I was a kid, so I looked specifically for these when questing for books to use for handmade envelopes. The pages are a bit small, so one just has to tape the edges, but I think they're worth it.

Minikin envelope

Here's the second one, with more postage because it headed off to Canada.

back of Minikin envelope

I will also say that the pages of these books are nice and thick, so I didn't worry about these envelopes being too flimsy to make it through postal sorting machines.

November Benevolent Postcard Society offering

Benevolent Postcard Society: November

Here's what I sent out for my November Benevolent Postcard Society offering. It came from Hammerpress in Kansas City; my mom sent me this postcard with a packet of some other fun things in a letter sometime earlier this year.

Benevolent Postcard Society: November

I liked the silver ink on brown postcard so much that I drew a little kitty face. Soda is featured on the stamp.

I sent this BPS November card out so late because they had some sort of gmail glitch where people with gmail emails weren't receiving the address info, which was supposed to have been sent on or before the first of the month (so postcards could go out the first of the month).

I think the Benevolent Postcard Society is a really wonderful idea, but especially since the membership is limited, I find it really frustrating that people joined up with a commitment to send a postcard every month, and then clearly so many of them aren't following through. I have sent a postcard each month, of course, but I have only received one for September. Whoever was supposed to send to me in October, November and December either didn't, or it's gotten supremely lost in the mail. I could accept those odds with one postcard, but I'm sure at least two of them just never bothered to send one. The gal behind BPS wrote a very tactful post reminding members of their commitment to send postcards, and asking them to be honest and just withdraw their names from the pool if they couldn't really send the postcards every month.

I've found this experience to be very typical of the idea-vs-reality ratio of letter-writing and snail mail. A lot of people really love the idea, but lack the follow-through. I certainly don't mind that for my pen pals - write when you can, and drop off if you must - but it makes me doubly appreciate the ones who have been writing faithfully for years. It's just a little microcosm of life, I guess - there are those who talk about it, and those who do it.

Be a doer.

Go write a letter, or a postcard.

(And if you're a member of the Benevolent Postcard Society - send your postcards when you should, or gracefully bow out!)

To end on a positive note, though, the recipient of this postcard wrote me back a really nice postcard, which included her own artwork that was delightfully modified by her kitty. I still owe her a response - so I guess I should quit talking and start doing, and go write a letter myself!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Beauty Batty

Beauty Batty

This fabulous blog reader letter from Ireland came on the cutest stationery: Beauty Batty!

Beauty batty envelope

Obviously I went "squeee!!" and kvelled over it for a while before I even opened it.

Beauty Batty page

The inside page did not disappoint - what cute little batties! I should mention that it was also a delightful letter. I don't hear a lot from Ireland, so that was cool in and of itself, but this was a fine letter to receive.

Is it Halloween yet??!

Here are a couple of closer looks at these plump little bats.

Happy autumn bat

Note the "you're beautiful because you smile at me" line at the bottom of the printed page.

Thai peacock stamps, from Ireland!

Does this gal read my blog well or what? She actually sent me some of those gorgeous Thai peacock stamps I'd previously praised! Who would have thunk I'd get Thai stamps from Ireland?

Thai peacock stamps

Postal joy.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

JAMA's anatomically correct bat

JAMA cover - batty!

I am so fortunate to have lots of cousins who are willing to humor me with letters. This lovely cover of the Oct. 28 Journal of the American Medical Association was sent to me by my original letter-writing cousin - she's now a doctor (hence the JAMA subscription), but we used to write letters to each other when we were but wee lassies living in different towns in our childhood. I always get a kick out of seeing her handwriting on an envelope.

She said she saw this cover with the bat and just had to send it to me, and noted the anatomically correct portrayal of Mr. Bat.

anatomically correct bat

Yes, folks, he's definitely a mister.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Bejeweled princess kitty postcard

Bejeweled princess kitty postcard

Yes, Virginia, you CAN get pen pals from Postcrossing! This fantastic postcard came from a German postcrosser with whom I've struck up a correspondence, and she sends me AWESOME postcards like this one. I love the photo of the crowned woman with her white kitty, and it's made even better by this sparkly ornate frame.

Excellent German stamps

AND, how awesome is this postage?? I had to include the wide shot because the train station is so lovely and evocative...


...but THIS stamp has to be one of my favorites ever! Happy lady cradling her mail! Love it! Does anyone know a little more about this stamp? I am just ever so fond of it. The caption, "...Post...Post...Post.." evokes that happy-mail feeling for me.

UPDATE: The sender read my post and provided further info!
"The stamp is one from a series of a total of four stamps that German Post issued in 2007 to promote the advantages and joys of letter writing in our modern times. Below you can see the other three stamps. [She embedded the images in an email and I was unable to lift them for you here, sorry folks.] The one on your postcard is called “Recipient” and the ones below, from left to right, “Mailman”, “Mailbox”and “Sender”... put in the correct order they are supposed to show the way of a letter from being written, posted, delivered to being read."

So cool!

Muppets Carol of the Bells

This has nothing to do with letters, but because Christmas is such a big deal to so many of my readers, I share with you my latest favorite Muppet video as "Season's Greetings."

I've never done video before on this blog, and don't intend to make it a regular habit, but I really love this video and think it captures a fun spirit of the day. (Poor Beaker.)

To those that celebrate it, enjoy this holiday!

(I'm certainly enjoying sitting in my bathrobe on the couch, blogging, with my kitty Soda curled up on my lap between my laptop and the arm of the couch.)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Can you go BUZZ BUZZ?

Dr. Seuss bees envelope

My latest new practice in correspondence is making envelopes out of old children's books. I have oodles of points over at BookMooch, so I've mooched a few fun picture books and have been getting a kick out of making little envelopes out of some of the pages.

Can you go BUZZ BUZZ?

This comes from Dr. Seuss's "Mr. Brown Can Moo. Can You?" Each page features something (usually, but not always, an animal) and the sound it makes... and because it's Dr. Seuss, the illustrations are bold and fabulous.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Giveaway: Yours Ever

Yours Ever

As promised, it's The Missive Maven's first-ever BLOG GIVEAWAY!

In a delightfully ironic twist, I received two brand-new copies of this book as holiday gifts, one from a dear friend and one from a dear relative. I could send this book as a gift to someone else, but I don't want to repeat my situation of having someone end up with two of the same book.

*In the unlikely event that one of the original givers is reading this blog post - as my dear husband warned might happen - I am sure they will understand. I am delighted with this book and can't wait to read it, but I only need one.

The book, just published on November 10, is Yours Ever: People and Their Letters by Thomas Mallon. You can read all about it at the linked Amazon description, but here's a wee blurb:

"This companion volume to prolific Mallon's 1984 study of diaries, A Book of One's Own, surveys several epistolary subgenres, including friendship, advice, complaint, love, confession, war-zone dispatch and pleas from prison. A 25-year correspondence between Mary McCarthy and Hannah Arendt pleasurably mixes world politics and personal foibles, musings about the Eichmann trial with an unwanted pregnancy and literary gossip. Henry Miller bullied his patient publisher James Laughlin for 30 years (Why should I compromise?... to please you?); Florence Nightingale's angry, agitated letters from the Crimean War show a respect for the suffering soldier and a contempt for complaining nurses; E.M. Forster confides to a friend his homosexual initiation at age 37 by an Egyptian tram conductor; and Winston and Clementine Churchill's long correspondence blends patriotism, ambition and shared tenacity. They stand in marked contrast to the duke and duchess of Windsor's baby talk and self-pity. This smart, witty and lively account with excerpts of a not-yet-extinct literary genre will whet our appetites for published collections of letters—a selected bibliography is included—while motivating us to put pen to paper to rediscover a satisfying means of communication."

If you'd like a chance at getting this book in this here giveaway, just leave a comment on this post. (DON'T comment on the post if you don't want the book! As such, I won't throw off the numbers by responding in the comments section to comments.) I will select a winner from a random number generator. No anonymous comments allowed, sorry - it's easy enough to fill out a blogger profile if you don't have one already.


Because I've already had some anonymous comments, let me just end with the rules.

1. No anonymous comments will be approved. You need a blogger profile to enter this one (simply because I need to know who you are - I'm not going to count through "anonymous #7"), and if you don't have one yet, just make one. It's fast, easy and free, doesn't require a blog, and I think only requires a valid email address.

2. The deadline for comments/entries is 12pm (Eastern Standard/NYC time) on Wednesday, December 30.

Anachronism mail art swap

Anachronism mail art swap

Sometimes it's fun to decorate an envelope with a theme. The Anachronism Mail Art Envelope Swap on Swap-Bot seemed right up my alley, and here you see my creation. It seems a lot of my rubber stamps already fit this theme, and of course I tried to use postage stamps to fit the theme, as well. I colored the typing lady's fingernails with red glitter glue for a bit of bling.

Anachronism mail art swap, back

On the back, a vintage air mail label and some more fun stamps. For reasons I can't even explain, I think this carriage scene looks like a fairy tale.

It's ironic, this Swap-Bot thing. I really, really spent a lot of time on this envelope, which I thought was pretty fantastic, but the recipient did not give me a heart. I don't expect hearts, but I get them for something as silly as a simple postcard. Hmm.

This is why I've decided I'd rather spend time away from Swap-Bot, but it's still a fun diversion. And I get to share the pretty mail with you. :-)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Back after a brief hiatus

So sorry for the week without posting - I was on a little family getaway trip to Miami Beach. I took my laptop, but didn't end up having a moment to do any posting. But I'm back now, and have some precious down time, once I get my house clean!

Stay tuned for some good stuff coming later this week, including my first-ever blog giveaway!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Happy Birthday to this blog!

No fancy photos, no cake with candles - but today my labor of love, this here Missive Maven blog, is one year old.

It's been a great year. I can't even say how much all the blog reader letters have meant to me, and how many of you have become cherished pen pals.

When I started this blog a year ago, I had no idea how popular it would be, or how many people I would inspire to write more letters. It's been a fabulous journey... and it's not over yet!

Don't mean to make a big to-do, but I'm a little verklempt over this milestone. (If the rest of my life weren't so busy right now, I maybe would make a big to-do.)

Go write a letter!

The Missive Maven
Now 1 year old

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Owl Post

Owl Post logo

This subtle Owl Post logo is my favorite aspect of the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone postcard book. It tends to get hidden under writing, but I had to share this image with you.

The owl post concept is one of my favorite aspects of the Harry Potter world - AND that they still write letters (with quills, no less!).


Each postcard is different, but here's a creepy view of Professor Quirrel.

Fishing for letters?

Fishing for letters

A pen pal sent me this fun "A Jolly Halloween" postcard (yes, she did send it in time for Halloween, so you see how behind I am with blogging as well as letter-writing). What is the little witch doing? Is she pulling letters out of the pumpkin, or putting them in?

A jolly halloween - with flash

This was a mistake shot with the flash, but I'm posting it anyway because it really shows off the glitter accents.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Typewriter imagery


Olympia-licious! I'm not sure how he got this image on the envelope - laser printed, maybe? - but I loved pulling it out of my mailbox.

received + sent

Here it is with my response - including some vintage stamps (Willa Cather, Johnny Appleseed, Elvis - is the Elvis stamp vintage yet?).

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hand-painted peacock stationery

Hand-painted peacock

The amazing artist over at All My Hues has done it again - she sent me this gorgeous hand-painted peacock stationery!

Hand-painted peacock

See the gold glitter in its tail? Isn't it AWESOME??

peacock tail glitter

I just had to do a close-up on that glitter because I love it so much.

Hand-painted peacock with glitter in tail

I'm very fond of peacocks, and this is one of the finest representations I've seen. I'm so floored that it was painted just for me! She blogged about it in detail when she made it, in case you'd like to learn more about all the wonderful materials she used; I'm not an artist, but I do know she did this on Crane paper.

I am SO honored to receive this gorgeous work of art - and she wrote a really great letter around it, too!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Shalom mail art

Shalom mail art

One of my smashing mail artist blog reader correspondents is also Jewish, and sent me this lovely mail art Happy New Year card for Rosh Hashanah.

Heck yeah, I'm behind... I received it in October and now it's December, but I'm going for better late than never here, folks.

I really like the bird. It feels like new beginnings.

In Hebrew, Shalom means peace and is also used as both hello and goodbye.

UPDATE 15 Dec 09:

The sender and artist just gave me a little more info on this piece, specifically that wonderful bird:

"The bird is from a photo sent to me to use in my collage for a book cover. I made many copies in various sizes, in order to prepare the collage. The book will be out in April 2010.

The bird was painted by Palestinians in Gaza, children and adults, in an art project by Jewish Americans and Israelis. The wall was built within feet from the door of this particular family's home. The mural is to brighten their view and create a bond between Palestinians and Israelis.

To see about the book, go to:"

Hanukkah stamp


This seems a great moment to talk about this year's Hanukkah stamp from the post office - Hankkah begins at sunset this evening. It startled me to learn how early that is here in Newport right now - 4pm!

Sometimes I find the US postal service's Hanukkah stamps weird or cheesy, but I'm really fond of this one. I've been using it on my mail a lot lately - I like the clean, uniform look of the menorah coupled with the little bits of runny wax on the candles. It's beautiful yet authentic, with classic Hanukkah colors of blue and silver.

If you've read this post, you know I won't be saying much about Christmas, but at the beginning of Hanukkah I will say that I wish all of you the infectious joy that can accompany this season. I dislike all the stress and obligatory consumerism and silly gift-giving that goes on around me, but I do really enjoy the general feeling of attempted kindness and goodwill. If you celebrate a special holiday this month, I hope it's delightful.

To my Jewish readers - Happy Hanukkah!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

British post boxes


This lovely postcard came to me from the gal behind A Postcard A Day. A while back (in August, specifically) she blogged about these lovely stamps and postcards, and offered to send one to the first few people who emailed her. Lucky for me, I was one of those folks!


She included the matching stamp for this postcard, and some very cool UK knight-looking stamps as well.


Here's a closer look. How delightful, and delightfully meta!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

He wrote it all down zealously

He wrote it all down zealously

This postcard is from Edward Gorey's "The Glorious Nosebleed," via a postcard book from Pomegranate Books. The title of this postcard/page of the book is "He wrote it all down zealously." (I added the bat sticker.)

Gorey-ful postcard for Swap-Bot

I put some Gorey stamps on the back, plus an advertisement for this here blog, but only got all Gorey-licious after reading in her profile that the recipient was a Gorey fan. I have since learned not to put quite so much effort into a general open Swap-Bot swap, or should I say I've since learned not to bother with the really general postcards swaps, because most of the postcards I received in these things didn't seem to have much thought put into them.

But I had fun with this one.

So my current Swap-bot stance is to host my own swaps if I'm really interested in one concept (like the cat postcard swaps - I'll set more up soon!), or maybe jump into a few interesting and specific ones, but my initial infatuation with Swap-bot has calmed down and I'm devoting most of my postal energy to my regular correspondents again.

Speaking of which, it's time to go write a letter...