Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Giveaway: Edward Gorey Evil Garden 2014 calendar

Gorey Evil Garden 2014 calendar, front

What better way to end the year than with a giveaway? One lucky blog reader will win this 2014 Edward Gorey Evil Garden Calendar. There's nothing wrong with it except for a slight rip in the plastic wrap (which you can see in the photo above), but it's still in its original packaging.

Why am I giving it away, you may wonder? Well, my mother-in-law is awesome. She knows me and my taste so well that she gave me the gift of this calendar, which is the very one I had already purchased for myself. I am looking forward to hanging my copy above my writing desk on January 1, and this one is for someone else to enjoy.

Gorey Evil Garden 2014 calendar, bacl


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, you must provide a valid email address in your comment. If your comment/entry doesn't have a blogger profile with a valid email address, it won't even get approved, 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.

3. WHERE: Due to postage costs, I must restrict this to USA only. Apologies to my international readers... I will do a giveaway JUST FOR YOU sometime in the future, but not this one.

4. WHEN: I'll make the selection on Monday, December 30, 2013. Get your comments in by 12pm EST that day.

Good luck! I'm so glad to pass this on to another Gorey lover.

UPDATE: Winner selected, congratulations to #2 - lucky Ambrosia - and thanks so much to everyone for your interest! I am deleting comments so your email addresses will not remain visible.

Monday, December 23, 2013

I missed my blog's 5th anniversary!

OOPS - how did this one slip by me? This blog turned 5 years old on December 16, 2013. I do not have a fancy graphic, or anything else fancy to say, except that I just noticed it and felt I should acknowledge it!

Time is a strange thing. In some ways I feel like I've been doing this blog for ages, but mostly I can't believe it's been 5 years.

To celebrate, I'll share a random selection of a few of my favorite posts over the years:

  • Why not use a return address?

  • 2011: a year in mail

  • Dialing for stamps

  • Last mail art of 2012

  • Mail art thank-you

  • The amazing cat pouch letter

  • Envaccordion!

  • Curb your dog

    I am also nearing my 1000th post, and if I can get off my duff and post more than twice a month, I should achieve that in 2014.
  • Sunday, December 22, 2013

    Finnish Postcrossing stamp

    Finnish Postcrossing Stamp

    Here's another fine postage stamp I've received via Postcrossing: the new Finnish Postcrossing stamp! As far as I know, two three countries have an official Postcrossing stamp: the Netherlands, Finland, and (in a week) Belarus. I've gotten quite a few fine Dutch Postcrossing stamps (have I never blogged about these before??) but this is my first Finnish Postcrossing stamp. You can read more about them on the Postcrossing blog. Not sure what I think of the one with the mouth...

    I think it would be wonderful if the USA would issue a Postcrossing stamp, but I somehow doubt that is very likely to happen.

    Sunday, December 1, 2013

    V-mails are back!

    WWII V-mail stationery

    I'm pleased to report that I now have Vintage WWII V-mail stationery sets back in my etsy shop once again. These fantastic vintage papers were used by American soldiers and their loved ones in World War II to correspond via letters.

    You can read more about V-mails in a previous blog post, or go have a look at them on etsy... and happy letter writing!

    Wednesday, November 13, 2013

    Book giveaway: "Revolutionary"

    I have shared before how excited I am about my beloved's debut novel, "Revolutionary" by Alex Myers, due out from Simon & Schuster on January 14, 2014. (Eeek! That's just two months away!!) Now, at last, there is a real opportunity for others to read it! If you are one of the amazing, gung-ho folks who have already pre-ordered the novel, you are incredibly awesome. But if not, you have a chance to win your very own copy in a Goodreads giveaway. My caveat to you is that I am not a Goodreads member, I know nothing about the rules and requirements (I'm a loyal LibraryThing gal myself), but I know a lot of my blog readers use that service and I believe it's pretty easy to join. This particular giveaway is being offered in the USA only.

    Of course the novel has an epistolary element, so that should definitely be of interest to my friendly blog readers. They are giving away 4 copies, and you can enter any time between now and November 22.

    Enter to win "Revolutionary" on Goodreads - good luck!

    And if you're hungry for more of Alex's writing, you can also check out his blog at alexmyerswriting.blogspot.com or his Facebook author page.

    Friday, November 1, 2013

    A redesign was long overdue...

    Welcome to my new look! I was so sick of the old design I barely even wanted to look at it. A lot of my wonderful blog readers gave me excellent comments in the past when I mused on the idea of re-designing my blog. What I'm doing today is by no means the finished product, and I'm still very much playing with it, but I hope this design is a little more up-to-date and friendly with more current platforms.

    Unfortunately a lot of the elements from all the previous posts - such as photo sizes - were set for the old design, but we'll just have to live with that. Moving forward, I hope to play a lot more with the look. I'd love your feedback - I'm always interested in what my readers have to say!

    It's Fountain Pen Day!

    Happy Fountain Pen Day! I had no idea it was Fountain Pen Day until I saw this blog post (which you should really check out because it has some great links and giveaways) - thanks for letting us know, Julie! I'm all for celebrating the fine fountain pen, especially as it is employed in writing letters.

    Thursday, October 31, 2013

    Happy Halloween 2013!

    Happy Halloween!! I have gotten much fine bat mail so far, but I have not photographed it yet, so today's image is a Vintage Halloween postcard courtesy of The Graphics Fairy. You can go there to download the graphic, too.

    Watch out for ghosties and ghoulies in your mailbox!

    Wednesday, October 30, 2013

    A desk of one's own

    Some of my postcards were recently featured in a lovely blog post called A desk of one's own from Little Yellow Couch. It talks about setting up a dedicated writing space, with all kinds of fine accessories, and has lovely photographs with engaging text. Specifically, she featured my Swallow's Air Mail Garden postcard set, and I'm so pleased with the way they look on her lovely desk! For a great post with some writing desk eye candy, do check it out. You can also follow her on Twitter.

    It's so important to have a desk of one's own!

    Sunday, October 13, 2013

    Bats cheer me up

    Batmail 2013

    This week I got a lovely letter from S., a pen pal in Germany, and she drew this fantastic bat on the back of the envelope! I love how the bat is holding her return address label (which also has a bat on it). What a treat! This really cheered me up. S., I still need to write you back...

    Thank you all for the good wishes on my broken thumb. I wish I could bring good news, but in fact it is healing very badly, so I am having surgery on it tomorrow in hopes that I can regain mobility in the joint. I had hoped the healing process would be well underway, but now with the upcoming surgery, I am looking at another two months in some kind of cast or splint, and a lot more fresh pain tomorrow. So please forgive me if I continue to lay low here, and on Twitter... I've got my hands full just trying to deal with this injury. Thank you all for your good wishes.

    Meanwhile, everyone enjoy autumn (at least those of us in the northern hemisphere), and may you all get wonderful mail in general, and especially Halloween mail.

    Saturday, September 21, 2013

    An injured update

    When even my father - who is not a mail enthusiast but who reads this blog occasionally - comments that it's been a long time since I've blogged, I know I'm behind.

    So here's the non-mail-related personal update. It's been a rough couple of months. I've still been happily sending a lot of mail, but my body has had a difficult adjustment to my new job. I like the job itself, but I am back sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day, and am having a resurgence of some repetitive strain injuries I've had in the past, which has caused a lot of pain in my shoulders, arms, and hands. My workplace is being very accommodating and we're slowly changing my setup to try to ameliorate my pain, but the end result is that once I get home, I do not relish the thought of typing or being on the computer. So I've been minimizing the laptop time in my leisure hours.

    As if that weren't enough, this week I had a major setback. I tripped and fell at work, and caught myself wrong as I hit the ground... along with terribly bruising both my knees (I fell hard onto concrete), I broke my left thumb. I'd not broken a bone ever in my life before, but my left thumb is very broken at the smaller top joint, and the break is a bad one. (That's a funny thought, no? Like, what is a "good" break? Well, a good break is one that is likely to heal cleanly and easily.) I have been in a lot of pain, and am more than a little bit down. Typing is a great challenge now, and I have to type all day at work, so please forgive me if I lay low from the blog for a while.

    Fortunately, I am right-handed. Learning how to do things like dressing and grooming with only one usable thumb is a challenge, but at least I can hand-write mail without too much trouble. So I'll leave my computer for now, beg your pardon for all the time away from the blog and all the weeks to come that may be quiet, too... and go pick up my fountain pens and write some letters.

    Saturday, August 17, 2013

    Postal Service is Public Service


    So sorry to have been absent, dear blog readers... as before, I've been writing letters and living life (and exploring my great new city of Washington, DC!). I've been meaning to blog, and today's Postcrossing haul convinced me I simply had to blog right away!

    Above, I received IN-65026, showing a "postman bike" from India. The caption reads "Prototype of a postman bike bearing the new logo of India Post and its slogan in Hindi: 'Dak Seva, Jan Seva' meaning Postal Service is Public Service." Hooray!


    I also received the fabulous GB-456219, showing a wonderful Postman book cover. The sender was so enthusiastic that she sent me TWO postcards, and she's been a customer in the past in my etsy shop. Small world, eh? Certainly a small world of mail aficionados!


    Finally, on a postcard from the Czech Republic, I received this wonderful postage stamp showing the work of Alphonse Mucha.

    Happy mailing, everyone!

    Sunday, July 28, 2013

    Writing, not blogging

    Outgoing mail, 22 July 2013

    Settling into a new life is busy, yes, but I've been taking time to write instead of to blog. My apologies to blog readers for neglecting my beloved blog, but here are some photos of the fruits of all my letter-writing last weekend. My beloved and I were both feeling a little under the weather, so we just hunkered down at home and I wrote mail for much of the day on Saturday and Sunday. It was lovely. And now this week I've had a lot more mail to show for it!

    Outgoing mail, 22 July 2013

    I always like to add photos with blog posts whenever possible, but I have to confess that after having been a loyal and devoted Flickr user since 2005, I utterly loathe what Flickr has become with this latest redesign. I've been avoiding it because it leaves an icky taste in my mouth now. So that makes me want to avoid blogging with photos, which is no good, either. I am seriously considering leaving Flickr, even though I have thousands upon thousands of photos there. Are there any other Flickr users who have felt compelled to do so, and have found a decent photo site alternative?

    Sunday, July 7, 2013

    How did it get to be July?!?

    Wow, July snuck up on me! June was a whirlwind with moving and starting a new life in a new city, but I'm feeling settled now. My apologies to all my lovely blog readers -- I confess I've been neglecting this blog. I've been out doing moving-in stuff, exploring DC, and, yes, I've been writing letters! In the difficult calculus of free time, I've opted to write letters instead of blog about writing letters. I've gotten some fun mail recently, though, so I do hope to blog about that soon... and maybe show my new writing desk setup.

    I hope everyone is out there having a great summer, and enjoying many good mail days!

    Sunday, June 16, 2013

    I'm all moved!

    Greetings from Washington, DC! We are all safely moved, and if not completely settled, we are happily settling in. My stationery is (mostly) unpacked, and my writing desk is nearly set up, and my etsy shop is once again open for business.

    There are a lot of things to do and to learn with a move - where is the best grocery store? Gotta get that new driver's license, etc - so I'm still pretty busy, but I hope to be more of a presence and back into more regular blogging (and letter-writing!) soon. If anyone has any recommendations for interesting activities for letter-writers in Washington, DC, do let me know!

    In other news, I just had my 1000th Postcrossing postcard registered - it was US-2259464 to Germany - so I'm pretty excited about that big milestone, too.

    Friday, June 7, 2013

    Time to move!

    My stationery is packed, my inks are packed (oh my goodness, packing fountain pen inks for a long-distance move is NOT fun), and now my favorite travel fountain pens are getting packed away for the move... our moving van comes tomorrow and I will be in Washington, DC on Sunday.

    I'm sending out cards with my new address to regular pen pals. If we already write to each other, and you are eager and want my new address before then, please send me an email. I will not be posting my new address on this blog for privacy reasons, and I thank you in advance for respecting that.

    In the meantime, I've gotta get back to packing!! Wish me luck on the move!

    Sunday, May 26, 2013

    Missive Maven on etsy is moving, too

    Notecards: Zesty French postman with quote
    Pictured: Zesty French Postman notecards

    Along with my move to a new city, my etsy shop inventory must move, too. From June 1 to somewhere in the middle of June - June 15, let's hope? - MissiveMaven.etsy.com will go on vacation. All my wares currently in the shop will reappear once I'm resettled in DC (if I don't sell out beforehand, that is!), but if there's anything you're wanting, do make that purchase before June 1, or it will need to wait until later in June when I am unpacked and can re-open the shop.

    Packing... ugh. I'd rather be writing letters.

    Monday, May 13, 2013

    Moving is not conducive to letter-writing (or blogging)

    Hello, dears - I am still here... sort of, anyway. I am now deep in moving hell. Lots of cardboard boxes. I move to Washington, DC in less than a month. Things are progressing as nicely as can be expected, really -- I have an apartment and a job, hooray! -- but it is just as busy as busy can be around my humble (increasingly boxed) abode. The cats are nervous, I am stressed, and... well, you know how it goes.

    The priority is getting everything ready for the move, and of course finishing out the job I have now... so I haven't had much time to do mail, and even less time to blog about it. Apologies for disappearing. I hope to give a more detailed update soon, but I was just fairly aghast when I looked at my blog for the first time in over a week, and realized it had been weeks since I posted, hence this brief update.

    Now, back to packing...

    Sunday, April 21, 2013

    Announcing "Revolutionary:" January 2014

    I have never been more excited for a book release in my life. I am ridiculously excited even to be blogging about it.

    Announcing... "Revolutionary" by Alex Myers.

    Due out from Simon & Schuster on January 14, 2014, it is now available for pre-order on Amazon.

    Why am I so excited about this? Well, "Revolutionary" is pretty darn fabulous - "A fascinating retelling of the story of America’s first female soldier, Deborah Sampson Gannett, who ran away from home in 1782, successfully disguised herself as a man, and fought valiantly in the Revolutionary War." It is a book I would love to read anyway, and I know that because I have already read it. How am I so lucky to be an advance reader of this fine novel? Its talented (and, may I say, dashingly handsome) author happens to be my best beloved husband.

    How does this book tie into the letter-writing theme of this blog? The novel does have a significant epistolary element - a lot of important information is conveyed in letters, and the reader gets a fine sense of the writing practices (and equipment, all well-researched) from the Revolutionary War era. In fact, in discussing my blog-post-in-progress with Alex, he said that its subject, Deborah Sampson Gannett (of whom Alex is a distant descendent), actually wrote a letter to Paul Revere, which is well-documented and preserved. He promises to write about that Deborah Sampson/Paul Revere letter on his own blog sometime in the future.

    If you are wondering why I am suddenly talking about my husband and my personal life when I so rarely do that on this blog, well... I am not only indescribably excited about this book, but I think it is a book that will interest my blog readers as well. There is a clear correlation between reading and letter-writing, and the vast majority of my correspondents and blog readers are also passionate readers of fiction. This book will appeal to lovers of historical fiction and literary fiction alike, including a fascinating examination of the role of gender and how it forms identity.

    On his own blog at AlexMyersWriting.blogspot.com, Alex did a great post about the book cover and his thoughts on it. It's a great look at how the themes of the book tie into the cover design (with which he is quite pleased).

    Alex Myers with statue of Deborah Sampson Gannett

    This past summer Alex and I did a little road trip to various New England sites where Deborah Sampson has ties; above you can see Alex posing with the statue of Deborah Sampson Gannett (Gannett is her married name) outside the public library in Sharon, Massachusetts, where Deborah lived after the Revolutionary War. Don't ask me if that actually looks like Deborah Sampson or not, because I have no idea, but Alex said the equipment she's holding looks pretty historically accurate.

    Alex rifles through a soldier's knapsack

    He would know - he did extensive research on this subject! Photo above shows Alex in 2010, while he was still writing the book, examining Revolutionary War-era equipment at the New Windsor Cantonment in New Windsor, NY - a spot where Deborah (disguised as the soldier Robert) actually spent the winter of 1782-1783 encamped with her fellow soldiers. There is now a handy museum there, with some of the original structure sites and a lot of excellent models of various munitions, uniforms, and other aspects of Revolutionary War life.


    Deborah Sampson is a famous enough historical figure to have statues and streets named after her - above you see Alex posing last August with the "Deb Sampson" street sign - and Alex's book is a fictionalized retelling of her days fighting in the Revolutionary War. I am obviously very biased, and I have given up any pretense of objectivity, since I am madly in love with its author and have read many drafts of the book prior to the final version for publication, but I think it is an amazing story and I expect I will not shut up about it anytime soon.

    Alex has many published short stories and essays, and one of his essays was adapted for NPR's "This I believe" Rhode Island and aired in July 2012 - you can listen to him reading his "identity" piece on the Rhode Island NPR archives here - and his blog at AlexMyersWriting.blogspot.com is the place to go to read many of Alex's other stories, essays, and some fabulous background information on his research for this historical novel, read a more extensive bio and fascinating personal information about him, plus some great info on his writing process and writing in general, including getting an agent and the publishing process. Good stuff there.

    To recap: check out more about Revolutionary on Amazon, and if you're that interested, go ahead and pre-order!

    January 14, 2014 is less than 9 months away...

    Sunday, April 14, 2013

    I'm featured on the Postcrossing blog today!!

    I'm featured on Postcrossing today!

    Today is exciting beyond words: my etsy items (and this blog, too) are featured on the Postcrossing blog!!

    I have been an enthusiastic member of Postcrossing for more than 7 years now, and I follow the wonderful Postcrossing blog very closely, so this just has me over the moon.

    Just had to share the fantastic news!

    Tuesday, April 9, 2013

    Fun ways to decorate a postcard

    The fine Postcrossing blog has a lovely entry up now about "fun ways to decorate a postcard." It details all kinds of great decorative enhancements - stickers, artwork, rubber stamps - and illustrates the examples with some great photos (looks like they're from the collection of another fabulous mail blogger, PostMuse).

    If you peruse my multitudinous postcard posts, you'll see that I'm a big fan of decorating and coordinating stamps, and I receive nearly as many decorated Postcrossing postcards as I send; what a treat to see this practice suggested by Postcrossing, and know that so many others like to get their embellishments on.

    ...time to write a postcard...

    Wednesday, April 3, 2013

    Postal Travels magazine, April issue

    The new issue of Postal Travels magazine just came out, and it's full of all kinds of mail and postal goodness. Pen-pallers might want to check out all the interesting articles and product reviews... and products from Missive Maven on etsy are reviewed on pp.42-43.

    Happy reading and writing!

    Monday, April 1, 2013

    Japanese postcards tend to be awesome


    I've gotten some truly delightful Postcrossing postcards from Japan lately! The postcard above is JP-383733, and the sender had noticed that I'd marked this design as a favorite but hadn't yet received it. I love the clean lines showing the evolution of Japanese mailboxes through the years, and the deep red color is rich and elegant.


    Perhaps just as charming, though, is the fabulous collection of postage stamps! Some look vintage and some look more modern, but they're all different and all gorgeous. I wish I could read Japanese - that green one in the middle with the little icon that looks sort of like Mr. Zip must be mail-related, yes?


    Here's another fine mail-related postcard, JP-382166, which is an illustration of various scenes of letter-writing. It has a vintage look and feel, but I think it's new.


    However, the stamps the sender used look mighty vintage to me! I honestly don't know much about Japanese philately, and I can't tell by "look" whether or not a stamp is vintage, but I've seen more current Japanese stamps and they don't look like this. I love the variety and old scenes! Are there any Japanese stamp enthusiasts out there that can share some knowledge?

    I know I spend a lot of characters praising Postcrossing on this blog, but it is joyous surprises like this that sustain my mail delight. It's so exciting to know that such lovely things may await me in my mailbox, who knows when!

    Wednesday, March 27, 2013

    International Geek Girl Pen Pals Club

    Remember my whole caveat about how I'm drowning in pen pals and can't take on any more? Yeah, that's still true. But since so many of my blog readers are still looking to connect with more pen pals, I wanted to share this new phenomenon, which has been a Twitter/Tumblr sensation since its launch just last week: International Geek Girl Pen Pal Club.

    It appears to be a pen pal matching service that works in rounds, and it looks like the second round is closed already. The first round reached 1000 pen pallers in 3 days, and the second round reached 1000 correspondents in 26 hours. Wow!

    As with any new pen pal matching endeavor, stay tuned to see how it goes. I really hope that all 2000 of those folks who signed up will genuinely exchange some great mail, and I hope the service continues, because it certainly looks fun.

    Their blurb says "we are reviving the lost art of letter writing," and if you've been reading my blog for a while, you may be aware of how I get a bit touchy when someone asserts that letter writing is a "lost art." Maybe you lost it, folks, but it's been with me and lots of others, going strong! Still, as I always try to remind myself, any efforts to get anyone to write more letters are worthy and appreciated.

    Did any of my readers make it in the first two rounds? Any thoughts on the experience?

    Tuesday, March 26, 2013

    Missive Movin'...

    I have exciting news. (It is actually terrifying and exciting all at the same time, but I'm focusing on the exciting part.) This has been brewing for a while, and if you've noticed that I've been blogging a little less, my apologies... I've been busy in a whole new way.

    National Zoo backyard bird mailboxes

    Sometime soon, most likely in June, I will be moving.

    The White House

    I am tantalizing you with photos of my new location-to-be.

    The National Postal Museum!

    Have you figured it out yet?

    Washington, DC postcards in a DC hotel

    Washington, DC -- here I come!

    We spent most of the week there last week, checking out the scene and specifically looking at apartments. We need to find a place to live, and oh yes, a little detail - I need to find a job. Any DC folks with tips, I'd love to hear them! We are familiar with the city but it's still a big incredible exciting ($$$EXPENSIVE$$$) move.

    Though I'm still in Newport for a while yet, I definitely feel like I'm already in transition. It's a fluttery, strange feeling. I've done cross-country moves before, but never to a city this big.

    So a few notes as relate to this blog and my correspondence:

    I don't know my new address yet. I won't for a while. I'm trying to be patient. I've gotta find a place to live first. I will keep my Newport address well after the move, and I will use mail forwarding from the U.S. Postal Service as well as a backup option from my UPS Store mailbox service. Never fear, I am hoping the mail transition will be a fairly smooth one.

    Space is going to be at a premium. I live in a fairly spacious house right now (that I don't own, so no worries about selling it - whew!) with incredible amounts of storage. I am going to move to a tiny apartment, which will be half the size of my house if I'm lucky. I am doing a lot of downsizing. I will be listing a lot of items in my etsy store. I will be putting a lot in storage, and divesting myself of some other possessions in various ways. For all of my blog readers and lovely pen pals who send me surprises, I love them, but please don't send me stuff now. Everything I look at is regarded as more expensive pounds to move or to store, and I am trying to get rid of stuff in a major way.

    I am going to be on a much tighter budget. (WAY poorer until I find a job!) Right now I'm pretty comfortable, I don't make all that much money but my housing and utilities are provided by my employer, so my expenses are nearly nil. This will not be the case come June. DC is a very expensive city, the process of moving alone will be costly, and money worries are starting to set in already. I have run this blog for the past four years as a labor of love, and I've kept it ad-free because I can. I am considering a change to allowing ads on this blog. I welcome feedback as always.

    You'll be hearing plenty more from me in the future about moving plans, and I'm curious to see how my letter-writing life will transition to my new home. One of the most exciting things about Washington, DC is all the culture and museums, though, and sometime soon you'll be seeing my blog post about my first, fantastic visit to the National Postal Museum!

    Sunday, March 17, 2013

    We can improve your nightlife


    Another gem from Postcrossing, this is FR-268010 from France. It shows a photo by Jill Posener (in London, 1981), of an ad by Rest Assured Beds. The ad tagline is "We can improve your nightlife," and it's been wittily defaced with "join lesbians united" graffiti. It's been a long time since I've come across a Jill Posener postcard, but I used to see them (and buy them!) all the time. She's a fantastic feminist photographer who happens to catch some great sexist advertisements that have been re-framed by wonderful feminist graffiti. This postcard was a treat to receive; it was published by The Women's Press in London.

    French Karate stamp

    The sender also used a righteous stamp of a woman doing karate. Even though the woman looks a little anime/stylized (hello, unrealistically long legs), it's still a great image of a woman in a powerful pose, and a fantastically fitting accompaniment to this fabulous postcard.

    Saturday, March 16, 2013

    German rainbow stamp

    DE-1879905 German Rainbow Stamp

    I've seen this fabulous rainbow spectrum stamp from Germany on a few German Postcrossing postcards now. I love it! The colors just jump out when I pull the postcards from my mailbox.

    This stamp honors German optician Josef von Fraunhofer. Honestly, I'm most excited about the fine rainbow spectrum. My love of rainbows is childish, primal, and somewhat inexplicable.

    Along with the fine postcard surprises one gets from Postcrossing, I am often just delighted with the postage stamps, too.

    Tuesday, March 12, 2013

    Roses and unicorns: new sticker seal designs

    Unicorn sticker seal

    I'm very excited to share with you three new envelope sticker seal designs I've just listed in my etsy shop. First, as seen above, we have a magical unicorn!

    Unicorn sticker set

    Who wouldn't want to seal a letter with a unicorn? Okay, I can think of some people who wouldn't, but I am not among them.

    Rose sticker seal

    Next up, a lovely bright seal with a single red rose in full bloom.

    Rose sticker set

    I love roses in real life and in artwork, and this large, lush red rose bloom in a vintage illustration is one of the loveliest I've seen.

    Old-fashioned vase of roses sticker seal

    Last but not least, there is a vase of blooming roses, overflowing with blossoms in yellow, pink, and red.

    Old-fashioned vase of roses sticker set

    I really enjoy the colors in this old-fashioned vase of roses, which is more subtle than the single large red blossom.

    These three new sticker designs - unicorn, red rose, and old-fashioned vase of roses - are the new additions to my other three sticker designs - postman, To get a letter, write a letter, and letterbird - which have been around for a while but have proved fairly popular. I hope there are other letter writers out there who may enjoy these new designs, too.

    Tuesday, March 5, 2013

    The letter: an abstract gift of time

    In one of my favorite bits of geekery, I often read the online forums of The Fountain Pen Network (FPN). I've never directly quoted a post there on my blog before, but I just read a marvelous post in the thread "Who do you write to?" by a new user with the charming appelation Epistler, and I found it such a fine summary of the value of writing a letter (instead of posting on Facebook, per se) that I was moved to share it:

    There have been times when I was about to post a link or a comment to a friend's Facebook wall, and I decided to email instead—to emphasize that this communication was a gift to them, not a performance for the world; and then beyond that sometimes I have thought "No. That's still not a clear enough emphasis that this is for you." And it doesn't have to be really personal stuff. It could just be pointing out an author or an article or such of interest.

    It just feels like a more directed, caring, generous, mindful, focused, gift-giving act to write to someone in post rather than to just post a link on their FB wall. And there are many dimensions to this: the time cost, the stationery cost, the postage cost, the extra time that writing with a pen takes, the better thought-out product that usually results, the individual expressions involved in paper/pen/ink/stamp choice (saying things perhaps about the writer, perhaps about the writer's perception of the receiver, perhaps about the writer's perception of his or her relationship with the receiver) and in the uniqueness of handwriting, the giving of a physical object that was once yours and was made with your own hands for a specific intended—much as if you had knitted them a sweater, the opportunity for the receiver to have and to keep a physical reminder of being thought of and cared about which has, among its significances, the role of being an enduring manifestation of the otherwise evanescent, abstract gift of time—the time taken to craft the letter.

    Epistler, I couldn't have said it better - or even as well. Bravo!

    Sunday, March 3, 2013

    Winner: Outstanding Achievement in Mail

    outstanding achievement in mail

    This lovely little surprise came to me from Melissa of Viva Snail Mail. It's a letterpress card with a sweet personal message on the back. I am utterly charmed by the little tiny letterpress mailbox icons along the bottom. Squee!

    It was printed by Gutwrench press (great name, no?), and here is the fun and serendipitous story of how Melissa got these printed.

    Mail surprises are their own unique brand of joy!

    Thursday, February 28, 2013



    This wonderful Postcrossing postcard came to me this week from Germany, DE-1961098. The artwork is fabulous in and of itself - reproduction of a vintage cat food advertisement from Germany. I think that cheesy kitty tongue is painted on/doctored on the original photo, which only adds to the kitschy kitty charm.

    Double fantastic, though, is that this postcard is metal! I guess it's some kind of tin/aluminum thing, sort of like old metal advertisements, but the backing is paper-coated so the sender just wrote on it with an everyday ballpoint pen. It's clearly been hand canceled, but still, I'm amazed it arrived in such perfect condition. I've gotten wooden and plastic postcards before, but I think this is the first metal one I've received. Very, very cool.

    Also, I love learning that the German word for "purr" is "schnurr." How delightfully onomatopoeic! Thank you, Google translate, for helping me figure that the rest of the caption is "Because Whiskas tastes so incomparably good." Schnurr!

    Tuesday, February 26, 2013

    Do you use Postable?

    I've seen a lot of buzz on Postable lately. I just read a nice post on The Letter Writers Alliance about it. Basically, it seems to function as an online address book, where contacts can update their own info and therefore it stays accurate because the data is live and fresh.

    I suppose I am the paranoid curmudgeon. Right now, I am abstaining from it as deliberately as I do from Facebook.

    I started to sign up when it first started its social media splash a couple of months ago, but there was something in the signup process that gave me pause. I don't recall the exact wording, so I don't want to get myself in hot water, but I do not entirely trust that the addresses are all private, and not given over to any kind of future sharing. What does Postable really gain from this? I am too suspicious, so I neither have my own account/database, nor do I willingly add my own info - though I realize that folks could add my info manually.

    I'm still thinking about it, though, and look forward to feedback from folks who've used it for a while. Many of my favorite and most trustworthy mail pals and mail bloggers use it, so I may be too paranoid here. What do you think? Do you use Postable?

    Friday, February 15, 2013

    Most frustrating Postcrossing postcard quote this year

    I just got a Postcrossing postcard from the UK.

    I am utterly, utterly piqued by this quote from it:

    "I liked Downton Abbey too but I think it was a bit over the top to kill _________ off. Hope it wasn't a spoiler for you. :-)"

    Hey, folks in the UK: please remember that Downton Abbey is about a year behind here in the USA! I had no idea that character was "killed off."

    That was a terrible, terrible spoiler for me. (NO SMILEY FACE HERE.) I have avoided all possibilities of spoilers online, and did not think to see it on a postcard. I had no freaking idea of this. (I have redacted the name of the character, to spare all of you the most annoying knowledge I now unwillingly carry.)


    Update on 16 Feb 2013: I just got a very sweet message from the sender, who genuinely had no idea that the USA was behind the UK in the series and felt awful for spoiling. Ah well. Now it won't happen again to someone else, and I am touched she took the time to send a sincere apology. Lesson learned for me: I am way too involved in this series, and this is why I generally avoid TV shows!

    Saturday, February 9, 2013

    Blizzard Nemo update

    I bet many of my blog readers have heard about the huge blizzard, dubbed "Nemo," that just hit New England. Thanks to all of you who have expressed concern. We are fine, but we are shoveling ourselves out of a lot of snow. I haven't yet found an official statistic for how much snow we've received here in Newport, RI -- the snow only stopped falling a few hours ago, after over 36 hours of continuous snowfall -- but I can tell you from my own exhaustive shoveling efforts that it is somewhere between two and three FEET of snow. That is an incredible amount for coastal New England! In my neighborhood, we lost power for 23 hours, which is more than uncomfortable in 20-degree weather... it's downright dangerous. I cranked the heat in my house before the power went, because I expected to lost electricity, and when we lost power at 10pm last night, it was 71 degrees in my house. When we regained power at 9pm tonight, it was 47 degrees in my house. I was reading with hat, coat, and gloves on - by the fire in our fireplace - when the joyous beeps of appliances restarting on the electric grid resounded throughout our quiet house.

    We've lost power for longer during hurricanes, recently during Hurricane Sandy, but I've not lost power at this very cold time of year before. I was starting to really worry about my elderly cats. Fortunately there was PLENTY OF SNOW to stuff inside the coolers that we employed to try to save the food from our powerless refrigerator! We were very lucky and didn't lose any food, and also didn't sustain any damage to our house, though two very large trees in our yard have come down from the weight of the snow. Don't know which was louder last night, the crack of a tree trunk breaking, or the horrible noise of a transformer blowing out when the whole few blocks lost power!

    I hope the scariness of the storm is behind us. I wrote a few nice letters yesterday when the snowfall was just pretty, and the power hadn't gone out yet. As I noted in a tweet on my Twitter stream yesterday, I love to write letters in snowfall, but once we lose power, I get too nervous to write letters, and have trouble doing anything but reading. So it's been a very nervous day, and I'm beyond relieved to be back on the grid, with my furnace pumping heat into the cold house again, and hope to be able to relax into some more letters tomorrow.

    I took a few snow photos today, and maybe when I have more energy and less anxiety tomorrow, I'll post some of 'em. First I've got to finish shoveling, and dig out my car.

    I hope everyone in Blizzard Nemo's path is warm and safe, and happily writing letters instead of worrying about heat and electricity!

    Wednesday, February 6, 2013

    The glorious grape: wine cards

    Like to drink wine and browse etsy?

    Me, too.

    Voila: enjoy a selection of my favorite wine-related notecards in my etsy Treasury, The Glorious Grape: wine cards.

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

    Outgoing February 4: a prolific mail weekend

    Feb 4 outgoing, front

    I am at the end of a special long weekend - I actually had 4 days off from work in a row!! This, during my busiest season, is particularly exciting. On Sunday, I went on a big mail extravaganza, and finally not only had a nice pile of outgoing mail to photograph, but actually remembered to photograph it, too. In here are personal letters, personal postcards, Postcrossing postcards - even my dreaded "tourist" postcards (but a lot of Postcrossers love 'em, so I keep 'em on hand).

    Feb 4 outgoing, back

    I was pretty decorative with stamp choice along with stickers - and you can see that I FINALLY received my new Global Forever stamps, too. Yay.

    To everyone, a good mail day!

    January mystery package extraordinaire

    January mystery package 1

    I get a fair number of fancy letters and postcards, but I don't often get fancy packages - especially ones that are a total surprise!

    January mystery package 2

    This fantastic package, which is really sort of a triangular tube (is there a word for that? High-school geometry was long, long ago), came to me from the fabulous Melissa of Craftgasm, sender of tons of very good mail. (Lucky me, I'm the recipient of quite a bit of it!)

    January mystery package 3

    Because I was so tickled with it, I had to photograph it from every angle before I even opened it. I thought I should share the joy with my blog readers.

    January mystery package 4

    She did a truly excellent job with the tape. This was a big hit in the UPS store where I get my mail, with all the employees and a few of the customers standing around to admire it when they brought it out to me.

    January mystery package 5

    And, my personal favorite - all those glorious stamps! An air mail letter label! (The letter really was inside there.)

    I am going to keep the contents a secret - they were a marvelous surprise, but they may show up later in a different form so for now, I just had to share the joy of the big weird surprise package itself.

    Sunday, February 3, 2013

    Green, gold, and gorgeous: Lunar New Year Snake from Carroll

    Year of the Snake 2013 Block Print postcard

    I can hardly thing of a lovelier harbinger of the Lunar New Year (aka Chinese New Year) than a fabulous block print postcard from Carroll. She has sent me countless gorgeous things over the years, and I haven't even blogged about them all. She does hand-carved stamps, block prints, paintings, drawings, collages - and what else? Probably everything.

    I admit I don't understand the detailed process of block printing, not really, but you can take a look at a great photo of her process on her Flickr. The scan doesn't do justice to the golden snake in the green, green grass.

    2013 year of the snake postcard back

    It's not only the front that's fabulous, of course - she used a delightful older Year of the Snake rainbow 34-cent stamp, and her own hand-carved 2013 Year of the Snake stamp (I assume she carved it, she's such a fine stamp carver). Carroll, you could sell this stuff! In a comment on my photo, she noted "The skinny snake carving is made on a scrap from the soft block I used for the big snake on the front. Rubber stamps by Design in Squares and Kodomo say 'Having Plenty' and 'Long Life'."

    And, she's headed to the L.A. Pen show soon. Who's envious? ME!

    Thursday, January 31, 2013

    Send a postcard, help save a post office

    We've all heard about countless post office closures across the country... thanks to the fabulous PostMuse (and her excellent tweets) I've just discovered a way to help save one little post office from possible closure! It doesn't hurt that said post office, above, is quite tiny and adorable.

    Do read the full saga of the post office in Rupert, VT. All the details are there. The skinny, though, is that this post office has had its hours cut and may face closure soon. There are two things that can help: revenue, which can only be generated on site at the post office, and VOLUME. So Jave Davies, the woman behind this postcard idea, decided that she'd increase the volume by sending out a plea for postcards to her P.O. box there -- AND she'l send 200 original art postcards in response to the first 200 postcards she receives.

    Here's the info, from her blog post:

  • YOU send her an art postcard. It can be original handmade, or a photocopy of something you've made. Print your name and address clearly on the card.
  • Mail to: Jane Davies, PO Box 45, Rupert, VT 05768
  • She will send YOU a postcard, handmade. "I don't promise it will be something you want to frame, but it will be original." She will send postcards to the first 200 respondents.
  • She will post ALL the postcards she receives on her blog. On each card she will indicate the name of its creator and the place from whence it came. If the volume is overwhelming, she'll open a separate blog just for the cards. "If nobody sends me a card, I will be sad and our post mistress will be out of a good time, and eventually a job."

  • Send a postcard, help save a post office

    Here's my little postcard offering, heading out in tomorrow's mail. I had fun edging it with gold washi tape.

    I don't post every mail art call that comes my way, but I think the idea of saving a post office through a flood of postcards is a pretty exciting one, and I hope that you'll consider sending one. Also, if you've ever wanted to see your postcard on a blog, she's promised to post them all, so that's pretty cool, too!

    And how cool is it to know that you're helping to save a post office, one postcard at a time?