Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mail-less Monday coming

Photo by Robert Hruzek

To my readers in the USA, this just occurred to me so I'll share it with you: keep in mind that because July 4 falls on a Sunday this year, the postal holiday will be Monday, July 5. That's right - a no-mail Monday! At least this means Tuesday will be a whopper day for letters and postcards.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Trumpet stamps

Trumpet stamps

Here's another one of those fine vintage Mork & Mindy postalettes. On this one I chose special stamps for the recipient, who plays trumpet. (Could you guess?)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Soda the lettercat strikes again

Soda the lettercat strikes again

My most enthusiastic letter-writing helper, Soda, contributed to a recent letter. She was cute enough, posed on the letter and the surrounding supplies, that I photographed her, as above, before she added her own personal mark to one of the pages I was writing:

Soda's tail smudge

Wanna see it closer?


The Soda Smudge Effect: one cat's contribution to epistolary excellence.

(It's worth noting that she's sleeping on the couch next to me as I type this post. She's very good company. She is, of course, sleeping on top of the Postcrossing postcards that came in today's mail, that I need to register as received... but she's sleeping so cutely...)

Goodies from the National Postal Museum

The whole shebang

A VERY generous pen pal who is lucky enough to live in Washington, DC sent me this pack of goodies from a recent visit to the National Postal Museum. I have often longed to go there, but this pack from the Alphabetilately exhibit is surely the next best thing. ("ALPHABET + PHILATELY or Alphabetilately is the alphabet of philately:" basically A to Z in stamps. Don't ask me how to pronounce it, because I have no idea.)

Paper goodies + v-mail reproduction

She sent some postcards, groovy bookmarks, and an awesome V-mail reproduction...

Paper goodies from the National Postal Museum

and they were all free for her! Admission is free, the goodies are free... ain't the Smithsonian grand? (The National Postal Museum is a branch of the Smithsonian.)

Prescription label: mail addicts anonymous

I got such a kick out of the mailing label she used. Potential side effects: JOY!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Statistics and The Pile

Enough pen pals have been asking that I bit the bullet and counted the letters in my needs response pile. The tally today, before receiving Thursday mail, is as follows:
98 letters
25 postcards

So there we have it. It seems insurmountable, but it's not about the tally, it's about the letter-writing experience.

That being said, a lot of pen pals and blog readers say they like my outgoing stats, and so far no one has offered any negative feedback about them. Some of my fellow mail bloggers also post incoming stats. What do you think? Should I do that? I have felt hesitant to do so because I don't want to be bragging about the amount of mail I receive - it is really quite a lot - but some folks are curious, and it might hold off those that start saying "why haven't you written me back yet??" two weeks after they sent their letter or postcard. (I have averaged my stats, unscientifically, and the mean average turnaround time for a response to a new letter or postcard - meaning someone who has never written me before - is about 3 months.)

Feedback welcome and requested!



I don't often send a postcard from the Isabel Samaras set, "On Tender Hooks," via Postcrossing, because the Samaras stuff tends to be quite odd and offbeat. But this Postcrosser had a combination of things listed on her profile that made me think this one would be a good fit. Of course this set is from Chronicle Books, home of so many fine postcard collections.

Back of US-696230

As we learn on the back, this work is called "Gone Native (Princess Broglie)," and is oil on wood from 2005. I livened it up with an Edward Gorey stamp (a fairy? a princess? a fairy princess?) which I embellished with some glitter pens, but I'm not sure those really come through on this photo.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010



Here's a cute Postcrossing postcard I sent out to Switzerland, from The Cutest Sneeze in the World postcard set from Chronicle Books, with artwork by Jeffrey Brown. I love the cat spirit in his artwork; I've blogged about these postcards a few times before, if you want to see some other designs.

Sorry for the week with no posts: I was visiting family out of town, and although I took my laptop, I had no time to update ye olde blogge. I'm back in business now, though, and will try to pick up the slack on writing plenty of letters as well as blog posts. I only got 15 letters & postcards the week I was away, though, so my backlog hasn't increased TOO terribly much.

The Very Special Giveaway will travel to Finland!

Thanks to all 22 of my wonderful correspondents who entered my Very Special Giveaway of rubber stamps and glitter pens. The winner is #4, Sirpa in Finland! I'm glad I opened this up to anyone, anywhere in the world, as Sirpa is a wonderful mail artist and I know she will put these stamps to beautiful use.

Stay tuned, I think I'll post another giveaway by next week...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010



I made this envelope from a wonderful, colorful page of the Dr. Seuss book, "Mr. Brown Can Moo." The picture makes me happy.



This is one of my favorite envelopes I've made. Not sure why, I think I just love the old-school space-style illustration. Here we have two of the other recent Zazzle photo stamps I've ordered: Soda guarding a Curb your Dog postcard, and Magic yawning on a porch. Had to throw in a Skylab space stamp to complete the theme.

starry air mail

Mmm... starry.

Monday, June 14, 2010

A Very Special Giveaway: rubber stamps and glitter pens

Update: congratulations to Sirpa, winner of this giveaway!

Giveaway: rubber stamps and glitter pens

Next in the June blog giveaway extravaganza is a variety of letter embellishment tools: rubber stamps and glitter pens.

Now, before I even go into detail about these items, let me first say why this is a very special, and a very unorthodox, giveaway: this one is just for my blog reader letter writers. I know I'm going to get some flak for this (and if you'd like to share your flak, please comment on this post and not here), but I always think, when drawing a giveaway, "ooh, I wish this could go to X," and X is inevitably one of my pen pals who's entered the giveaway. So the rule for who's eligible for this one is pretty simple: you must have written me at least one letter or postcard in the past, and I must remember you. It's my blog, I make the rules, and I want these special items to go to someone who I know is a letter writer, and this is the best way I know. No good if you send me something this week - I have to have received it before this post has been published. I don't think that's a super big deal, because the majority of my readers and regular commenters (and participants in giveaways) fall into this category anyway, but there's my reasoning and I'm gonna stand by it.

Okay, on to the goodies!

Glitter pens

I confess that I opened the glitter pens package, but only to test the pens and make sure they all work. They do. They're pretty sparkly. They're nothing fancy, I can't guarantee they'll work for ages, but you'll get a variety of glittery gel colors out of 'em.

New leaf stamps, still in box with cellophane

These are 4 brand-new leaf stamps, still in the package with cellophane. (I didn't open these to see if they work.) I won them in an eBay lot with other stamps. I would probably enjoy using these, but I am out of storage space for my stamps, and I've got to get rid of some of them, so the ones I use the least are going - the ones in this giveaway. They should go to someone who would use them, rather than sitting at the bottom of my stamp drawer.

VERY large frame stamp

This is a huuuuuuuge frame stamp, great for bordering envelopes. It's actually bigger than many of my envelopes, but works great for a standard-size greeting card. Yes, the top is stained from other stamps being on top of it, but it still prints a fine impression.

Victorian flower frame stamp

This is a smaller frame stamp, and I admit that when I bought it, I hadn't made out the design, and thought it was to be used horizontally, like for a return address. But then I got it home and figured out that the dark patch on the left is actually a person, looking down. It's clearer on the stamp impressions than on the artwork here.

Victorian flower frame stamp, rubber side up

Here's the back of that frame stamp, where you can see the etching of the person a little more clearly (I hope).

Art nouveau corner stamp

And here's a little Art Nouveau corner stamp. It bugs me because it's not a perfect 90-degree corner, and the rubber stamp isn't quite mounted perfectly to line up with the artwork on top. If you're a good stamper, that probably won't be an issue for you, and if you're not so anal about lines as I am, you won't mind that it's not a perfect 90-degree angle within the stamp.

So there are the goodies! And now, on to...


1. HOW: To enter the giveaway, leave a comment on this post. One comment/entry per person, please.

2. WHO: As stated above, this one's funky: you must have written me at least one letter or postcard before. I will approve anonymous comments as long as it's clear to me who you are. If you have a blogger profile name and I might not associate that with your letter-writing name, please make that clear, too. One presumes if I've had a letter from you in the past, I'll know how to contact you, but I have been known to lose addresses... if you are in doubt, leave an email address or link a blog where I can comment. I will NOT approve comments from anyone I don't recognize, so if you keep trying to comment and it's not showing up (remember that I have to approve comments anyway, so wait a day to see if it shows up), that means I must not recognize you, and either you're ineligible, or I need some clarification.

3. WHERE: Anywhere on earth, as long as you meet the requirements in #2!

4. WHEN: The deadline for comments/entries is 11:59pm (Eastern Standard/NYC time) on Monday, June 21. I will choose and announce the random winner on Tuesday, June 22.

Good luck!

Feedback on blog giveaway rules

I'm curious, and I'm opening up Pandora's Box to reader input.

What do you think about the rules to my blog giveaways? Are they too strict? Too loose? I am particularly interested in the rules for my most recent Very Special Giveaway just for those who've written to me in the past. Do those who qualify appreciate the strictures?

If you want to have a look, here are all the giveaways I've done in the past.

Fire away!

Giveaway winners

Just a quick word of congratulations to Krandall, winner of the scented fountain pen ink giveaway, and MaryHasSound, winner of the nostalgia package!

Keep alert, there's another extra-special-unusual blog giveaway in the works, to be posted (hopefully) later today.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Don't miss the giveaways!

Don't forget about the two giveaways I'm running - one for scented fountain pen ink and the other for a nostalgia package including some vintage papers. Both end at 11:59pm EST tonight, and I'll pick and announce the winners tomorrow.

Cat butt stamps

Cat butt stamps

Here's an outgoing letter that features two of my recent self-made photo stamps from Zazzle. We see Magic delving into a food bag (does this make my butt look fat?) on the left, and Memo's girth arrayed on a table, from the MOST flattering angle, on the right. I must say that the WIDE LOAD stamp has been a tremendous hit with family and friends who actually know Memo in the flesh (or shall I say, in the flab). I added the International Women's Day stamp to tally up to the international letter rate.

Should you be so inclined, the original photos used to make the stamps can be found on Flickr:
A prize in every bag (Magic)
Wide Load (Memo)

Oh! I almost forgot - the stationery used is Wonder Woman fold & mail by Chronicle Books.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Fairy stamp letter from Finland

Fairy stamp letter from Finland

This amazing letter came to me from the amazing and artistic Sirpa. She posted about the Finnish Fairy stamps when they first came out, and I and another blog reader kvelled over them so effusively that she made us both mail art envelopes incorporating these lovely stamps. I love how she has continued the artwork beyond the stamps. This photo doesn't do them justice - the stamps each contain a little bit of glitter in them!

Finnish Fairy stamps

On the back of the envelope she used an image of the stamps from a post booklet.

What a magical treat!

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Letter Tree

The Letter Tree

Some lovely artwork I received in a letter from an artistic pen pal. I like the idea of plucking letters from trees... It seems especially appropriate for summertime.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Jetoy cat postcard

Jetoy cat postcard

I'm quite the fan of the Korean stationery company Jetoy, though I very rarely find their products available in the USA (even online). A couple of etsy sellers offer their items occasionally, but they tend to be quite expensive. So I often ooh and ahh over the wonderful Jetoy cats, not only because they are so beautiful and colorful, but also because I find them so difficult to obtain. I've found Jetoy cat sticky notes and keychains and the like on places like eBay and etsy, but I find the lettersets and postcards much more rare. (If anyone has an U.S. source for online ordering of these babies, LET ME KNOW!)

But a pen pal got her hands on them, and knew I'd love them, so she sent me one...

Jetoy cat postcard in glassine envelope

...inside a beautiful glassine envelope so I could see it the design from the outside!

I did squeal when I opened this one.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A whale for a rooster


I got this fine handmade envelope featuring a cocky rooster. Very great colors and contrast.


It had a fine red wax seal on the back...


...which looks even cooler close up.


In return, I sent an envelope with a whale and an underwater theme.


I have this great old wildlife photography book that is the perfect size for making sure the animal and photographer's name appear right at the bottom of the flap.

Kawaii kitty stationery with clear envelopes

Clear envelope for kitty letter paper

This incredible kitty stationery came as a surprise gift from a pen pal (thanks, Carroll!!), and I am so very taken with it. I need to photograph the writing paper part, I think, but here you can see that the envelope is clear so that the design of the paper shows through. Neat-o!

Clear envelope for kitty letter paper

I have seen glassine/vellum type clear envelopes in the past that are some kind of paper, but these envelopes are actually plastic. No ripping these guys! It does take a special sort of pen to write on them, but that's okay, I've got some handy, of course.

Textured glossy address with Sakura Glaze pen

This is the perfect medium for Sakura Glaze gel pens, which write with a thick plastic-type ink that dries to a glossy, textured surface, which I think I captured pretty well in this photo. One must write very slowly with the pens to get a nice, thick ink line, but it's a sort of zen experience, writing an address really slowly.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Bat night

Bat night card

This gorgeous letterpress bat card came in from a blog-reader-turned-correspondent, and of course it made my day.

It was quite a coincidence seeing what company made it, because I had just bought some stationery from my favorite store in Harvard Square from the same company. Clearly I'm a fan of their designs.


MOST unfortunately, I was unable to find any website for Saturn Press, so I can't find a way to buy these online. Oh well.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Giveaway: J. Herbin scented fountain pen ink samples

UPDATE: Congratulations to Krandall, the winner of the ink!

J. Herbin scented ink samples

My second fabulous giveaway this week is for J. Herbin scented fountain pen ink samples. Included here are red/rose scent, orange/orange scent, blue/lavender scent, and purple/violet scent. (The original set comes with a green/apple scent, but I don't have that one here.) They are the small 10ml sample size bottles.

J. Herbin scented ink samples

I don't have samples, but you can look at these ink reviews to see the colors of the inks:

The scents of these inks are too strong and chemical for me. I prefer natural essential oils, and these just give me a headache. So if you're chemical-sensitive, or don't like strong fragrances, I'd advise against using these. The colors are very nice, but I just can't deal with the scent. I hope they go to someone else who enjoys them.


1. HOW: To enter the giveaway, leave a comment on this post. One comment/entry per person, please.

2. WHO: No anonymous comments will be approved. You need a blogger profile to enter this giveaway (simply because I need to know who you are - I'm not going to count through "anonymous #7"), and if you don't have a blogger profile yet, just make one. It's fast, easy and free, doesn't require a blog, and I think only requires a valid email address. Also, your profile with email address MUST be viewable, or you must provide a valid email address in your comment. If your name is drawn as the winner, and I don't have or can't access an email address for you, I'll choose another winner. (Don't be an Indigo.)

3. WHERE: No location restrictions this time. I'm going to open this one up to anyone, anywhere in the world. We'll see how that goes.

4. WHEN: The deadline for comments/entries is 11:59pm (Eastern Standard/NYC time) on Sunday, June 13. I will choose and announce the random winner on Monday, June 14.

EDIT 7 June: Please read rule #2 carefully, folks. I've just deleted a bunch of entries because there was no contact info. Either 1) you know I already correspond with you so you're absolutely certain I know how to contact you; 2) you have an email address or a blog of your own accessible on your blogger profile, which I am allowed to view; or 3) you leave an email address in your comment. If your comment/entry doesn't fall into one of those categories, I'm deleting it before I do the selection, lest it throw the numbers off for the random number generator when I do the final pick. Lastly, keep your eyes peeled for this magical phrase after you submit your comment/entry: "Comments will be visible after blog owner approval." If you miss that and comment twice, or three times, or more, I'll delete duplicates.

Good luck!

Giveaway: nostalgia package

UPDATE: Congratulations to Mary Has Sound! She won this giveaway.

Nostalgia package giveaway

My beloved just cleaned out some old drawers, and was about to throw away this "Nostalgia package" that someone had given him as a gift, years and years ago. We're both trying to glean our possessions a bit, and I don't know exactly what I'd do with it, either... except that it's full of cool and vintage things! So, another blog giveaway is born. Not part of the package, but I'm throwing it in anyway, is a Peppermint Smencil, a "gourmet scented pencil" made from 100% recycled newspapers.

Nostalgia package giveaway

The nostalgia package (Contents: Great Old Stuff!) contains a domino, an empty brown glass bottle, two watches, some ribbons, a silver plastic catcher figurine, a pack of cards with a McCarthy button, old hair curlers, more pens and pencils, old labels and paper ephemera, and more!

Nostalgia package with paper ephemera

I thought the old paper ephemera might be of most interest to my readers, so I arrayed that all out in the above photo. The greeting cards are unused, but the postcards have both been sent.


1. HOW: To enter the giveaway, leave a comment on this post. One comment/entry per person, please.

2. WHO: No anonymous comments will be approved. You need a blogger profile to enter this giveaway (simply because I need to know who you are - I'm not going to count through "anonymous #7"), and if you don't have a blogger profile yet, just make one. It's fast, easy and free, doesn't require a blog, and I think only requires a valid email address. Also, your profile/email address MUST be viewable, or you must provide a valid email address in your comment. If your name is drawn as the winner, and I don't have or can't access an email address for you, I'll choose another winner. (Don't be an Indigo.)

3. WHERE: I'm going to be a little loose with the location restriction, in an unorthodox way. Anyone from the USA may enter. If you are in a foreign country, you may enter IF we already correspond (Sirpa, Bianca, Zoë, etc...). If you live outside the USA and we have not corresponded, you are not eligible to win this one.

4. WHEN: The deadline for comments/entries is 11:59pm (Eastern Standard/NYC time) on Sunday, June 13. I will choose and announce the random winner on Monday, June 14.

Good luck!

The amazing waterlogged letter, which actually arrived!

The amazing waterlogged letter, which actually arrived

I was so very surprised when I pulled this out of my mailbox - amazed that it actually arrived! The water damaged must have happened to this one en route, not caused by me. You can make out the address if you look reeeeeeeally closely at it. I wonder if this ink had some kind of a waterproof component to it?

wet letter

The rubber stamp on the back of the envelope didn't fare so well, either...

wet letter, inside

... and the letter was all blurred into itself on the wet side.

But it arrived!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Pelikan postcard

Pelikan postcard

This came from a fountain pen postcard correspondent. I love the meta factor, of course - and Pelikan is a famous maker of fountain pens and ink.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Homophone peeve

I've almost posted about this a million times, and this morning I'm just going to fire it off: the misuse of stationary absolutely drives me batty!

I know, it's one little letter, but I just gotta say it.

   /ˈsteɪʃəˌnɛri/ [stey-shuh-ner-ee]
1. writing paper.
2. writing materials, as pens, pencils, paper, and envelopes.

   /ˈsteɪʃəˌnɛri/ [stey-shuh-ner-ee]
1. standing still; not moving.
2. having a fixed position; not movable.
3. established in one place; not itinerant or migratory.
4. remaining in the same condition or state; not changing: "The market price has remained stationary for a week."

(Definitions and pronunciations courtesy of

Here's a fun pun:
"No matter how you push the envelope, it's still stationery."
But maybe that is even more confusing for some people.

OK, that's my rant for the day... I'll leave you on a positive note, related to this homophone peeve: PostMuse is doing a very fun giveaway of a tote bag with both of these words defined.

Update: Thanks to reader JP in CA for pointing out this fun post on the Crane blog. True 'nuff, people in the business should know how to spell their own product!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Stripped + Frankenfurter


These most excellent handmade envelopes came holding successive letters from the fabulous GirlZootZilla. Stripped! Love it! Gimmicky, but it works.

vintage ad envelope

GirlZootZilla did her own blog post about making envelopes... if that's the pile she achieved in an hour, she's a lot more productive than I am in that timeframe!

Rocky Horror envelope

Saving the best for last...

Don't Dream It: Be It!

Don't dream it, be it!


For those of you who aren't familiar with this iconic character, that's Tim Curry as Dr. Frank N. Furter in the cult classic "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Gaaaaaah! Too incredible.