Saturday, December 31, 2011

Another no-mail Monday coming

Due to New Year's Day falling on a Sunday, the U.S. Postal Service will observe the holiday on January 2, 2012. So mail your stuff today, folks, because we won't have pickup or delivery again until Tuesday.

On the bright side, that means Tuesday will likely be a good mail day!

By the way, Soda likes Halloween mail, too

Trick or Treat, from Soda

Back in October, Soda was exceedingly helpful with Halloween mail.

Halloween cat

She was particularly fond of all the goodies in the Halloween RSVP packages from the Letter Writers Alliance.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Halloween postcards with Halloween tape

Halloween postcard with Halloween tape 1

I spiced up a lot of my Halloween mail with some recently discovered Halloween paper tape - from Martha Stewart Crafts, of all places. I don't know if one is allowed to call this "washi tape" as it's not Japanese, but it is paper tape and tears essentially the same way. Of course the bat tape is my very favorite, and I found this Swap-bot Halloween postcard swap the perfect occasion to use one of my skull envelope stamps. A sparkly bat sticker, also by Martha Stewart (who knew her Halloween stuff was so great? I didn't!), livens things up.

Halloween postcard with Halloween tape 2

More Halloween tape here, though these stickers are decidedly NOT Martha Stewart.

Vintage-reproduction Halloween postcards

Finally, a shot of a bunch of Halloween postcards together before they went out for their swaps. I love these vintage reproductions! They came from three different postcard books: Halloween: Romantic Art and Customs of Yesteryear Postcard Book, Old-Fashioned Halloween Cards: 24 Cards (Dover Postcards), and Halloween Postcard Book by Darling & Company. Very few are actually spooky, most are cute, and some are just downright weird, like the bottom right-hand corner card that shows a kissing couple standing in a Jack-o-lantern.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

U.S. Postage rate increase in January 2012

I blogged recently about the upcoming international first-class postage increase, and I (and other blog readers) have been curious about which other postage rates are going up, and by how much.

So here's the skinny.

As of January 22, 2012, the new rates are as follows:

  • Letters (up to 1 oz.) – 1-cent increase to 45 cents
  • Letters additional ounces – unchanged at 20 cents
  • Postcards – 3-cent increase to 32 cents
  • Letters to Canada or Mexico (up to 1 oz.) – 5-cent increase to 85 cents.
  • Letters to other international destinations – 7-cent increase to $1.05

  • Source: Postal Service Adjusts Mailing Services Prices for 2012

    It is important to note that the U.S. Postal service "Forever" stamps will reflect the current first-class rate. So, if you are using a numbered stamp, or a Zazzle-bought stamp etc and it says 44 cents, you'll need to make sure you add a 1-cent stamp. However, if you're using a Forever stamp, it becomes worth 45 cents so you don't need to add extra postage.

    All postage released at first-class rate in 2012 will be Forever, and all of the later releases in 2011 were Forever stamps. As much as I miss the numbers, and combining old/vintage stamps to provide the proper face value, I have to admit that the Forever designation is handy and a good value.

    Use up your 98-cent international and your 29-cent postcard stamps while you can!

    Monday, December 26, 2011

    Silver Halloween letter

    Silver Halloween letter

    Yes yes, I am terribly behind in blog posts. I'm working my way through October letter photos now. So, here we have one of my more decorative and exciting Halloween letters! I do hope the metallic silver envelope went through with no problems, along with the day-glo green gel pen ink for the address. (That ink isn't totally waterproof, so I covered it with tape.) The envelope features some of my favorite Halloween stickers, and is being modeled by a cute bendy skeleton I got from one of the Letter Writers Alliance RSVP Halloween packages.

    Soda with Silver Halloween letter

    Naturally, Soda had to get in on the photographic action. I took a bunch of her with this letter - she seemed really to like this one especially - but in an effort not to barrage you with a million Soda pictures, I just picked my favorite.

    Silver Halloween letter, back

    And ta-daa! - the back. I love those stickers that make a play on words with favorite alcoholic beverages and spooky imagery... skin and tonic! Eyeball highball! HA!

    More spooky Halloween letters and postcards to come in future posts... because I know a lot of you readers, just like me, love Halloween year 'round.

    Saturday, December 24, 2011

    Happy Hanu-Kat 2011!

    Magic and the menorah 3

    As you may have seen in years past, our shy kitty Magic is very fond of the Hanukkah menorah. She and I both wish all of our Jewish blog readers a Happy Hanukkah (this was from last night's candles, but she's sitting by 'em again tonight!), and a happy holiday season to everyone.

    Magic and the menorah 1

    New 2012 international rate stamp: Lancaster County, PA

    Behold, the new 2012 international rate stamp! This image features Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (Amish country, I believe?) as part of the Scenic American Landscapes series, according to the Stamp of Approval blog. The new rate is $1.05, up from $0.98.

    UPDATE: Rates go up January 22, 2012.

    Friday, December 16, 2011

    Missive Maven is 3 years old today

    Missive Maven label

    Happy Blogoversary to me! I can't believe it's been 3 years. It seems like much longer, and much shorter than that, all at once.

    I want to thank all my wonderful readers for joining me on this epistolary-blogging journey. You are all an inspiration, and a heck of a lot of fun, too.

    I never thought I'd end up blogging this long, or this intensely, or that the whole Missive Maven endeavor would turn out to be such a large and fulfilling portion of my life.

    This is my busy season at work, and I know the posts fall way down during November, December, January and February. So I wish I had some big bombastic way to celebrate this anniversary, but as it is, I'm just happy I've managed a blog post on the day. I hope to do some more catch-up posts at the end of the month, but in the meantime, I'm trying to prioritize my little free time towards putting pen and ink to paper.

    Missive Maven label crop

    And for now... let's both go write a letter!

    Tuesday, December 13, 2011

    World's Smallest Post Service surprise

    My own World's Smallest Post Service, with a special letter from the WSPS Postmaster

    I got the most wonderful surprise gift a couple of months ago: my very own gratis World's Smallest Post Service, brainchild of Lea Redmond of Leafcutter Designs and manufactured by Chronicle Books. I have been aware of the WSPS for quite a while, as the Letter Writers Alliance has often touted Lea Redmond's magic, long before it was released as a collectible set by Chronicle Books.

    Special WSPS letter, sealed in its case

    Along with my own free set of the WSPS to play with, I got this neato letter from Lea Redmond, WSPS Postmaster, herself.

    WSPS letter, sealed in its case

    It came adorably sealed in one of those little cases - I know they have a name... what are they, film cases? - with its own mini envelope seal.

    Letter from the WSPS Postmaster

    Oh my golly, how flattered am I that the WSPS postmaster and creator herself thought I needed one of these?!? So cute!

    it comes with a magnifying loupe

    The letter came packaged with its own magnifying loupe. Fortunately for me, my eye deficiencies run the other way; I'm dreadfully nearsighted, but I can read tiny things unaided. (Or write them, as recipients of some of my microscopic-handwriting postcards can attest.)

    The arsenal of pens for the response

    Of course I responded right away, with a mini-thank-you written on using the WSPS sent to me. Here's the array of writing utensils I used for the job. On the far right you see the pen that came with the set; it is unmarked, but I believe it is a Sakura Micron of some sort. I was surprised that it isn't all that fine... I have finer-tipped pens in my own arsenal already, so I used those instead.

    Tiny response with envelope, via WSPS

    Here you see my tiny response with its tiny airmail envelope and very cute miniature postage stamp sticker.

    Tiny response via WSPS

    Here's a closeup of my letter. You saw in hers that she had quasi-notebook paper with lines and little holes, but the paper included in the WSPS set from Chronicle Books includes blank paper only. I was pleased with how well it took fountain pen ink, though, since my own needlepoint nib/XXXF Pelikan nib (special grind from Richard Binder) wrote finer than the black pen included.

    My WSPS response, secured with nib head skull sticker

    The tiny letters need their own larger encasing, so I used my beloved nib head skull design and stuck it inside of a larger card, to ride inside of another larger card.

    Is the set adorable? Yes. Would people who love tiny cute things love it? Absolutely. Would I ever have bought this on my own? Nope. I'm not a tiny-cute-things lover in most cases, and to me its not terribly practical - I'd rather just write a real letter (again, not being a swooner over the miniature thing). Will I have fun with it now that I have one? Most definitely.

    Thanks, Lea Redmond and Chronicle Books!

    Thursday, December 8, 2011

    This just in: New Postcrossing send limits

    I know a lot of my blog readers are as addicted to Postcrossing as I am, so I had to share this as soon as I saw it.

    Postcrossing has just updated the send limits for new users (or users with fewer than 100 postcards sent). You will now be able to send more postcards with fewer logged sent postcards. They can explain it better than I do, so I'll just quote directly from their post:

    Today we are doing an update on the formula for limits in Postcrossing. From now onwards, the limit for new accounts will start to increase after the first 5 postcards sent (and registered). Afterwards, the number of postcards you can send will increase by 1 for each 10 postcards sent (it was for each 20, so it grows twice as fast!). After the first 35 postcards sent, it increases by 1 on each multiple of 50 postcards sent.

    We know this might sound a little confusing, so we made a little graph to explain the difference between before and after. Here it is:

    As you see, the limits grow faster initially, allowing the account to reach a more comfortable level sooner.

    As for me, it's been a while since I've been able to have all my postcards traveling... I just don't have time to write them, and my current limit is 19. But all users get an extra postcard in their limit now, so in fact they just bumped me up to 20. It's a little holiday gift to everyone.

    Happy Postcrossing!

    Saturday, December 3, 2011

    Etsy letterpress love: Orange tabby press

    I found out about Orange tabby press, a fantastic etsy shop, from one of PostMuse's tweets (@PostMuse). She was praising this Snail mail letterpress stationery set, and of course I fell in love with it and couldn't resist ordering some. It's a little hard to tell from the photo (though the description does say this on the etsy listing), but it's on light green paper. The paper itself is thick and of high quality, and takes fountain pen ink beautifully. I've only tried one ink on it, and in all honesty I can't even remember what ink it was right now... but it did not bleed through or show through at all, and I could write on both sides.

    Also from Orange Tabby Press, I got this lovely set of Letterpress notebook paper, which really does come with the pencil. I haven't tried mine out yet, though I will assuredly do so with a fountain pen and not the pencil.