Thursday, September 29, 2016

Lovely mention on Anchored Scraps

I recently got an etsy order from Helen, who blogs about at Here's her angle:

"Through her website and blog, Helen is looking to connect with kindred storytellers who are likewise looking for insights on how to balance our 21st Century technological lifestyles with the joy of traditional communication methods."

Sounds pretty great to me! Helen was pleased enough with her recent order from me to write a lovely, photo-rich blog post about Missive Maven original mail-themed stationery. Thanks, Helen! Go check out Anchored Scraps: it's full of great mail- and writing-related goodness.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Postcards from Taiwan

Postcards from Taiwan

I just got back from a trip to Taiwan! Of course the first thing I bought there was a big pile of postcards. These are cards in the Gotochi style, though they are from Taiwan and not Japan. They're thick and with unusual shapes all featuring local attractions or culture, done in a cartoon illustration style. I sent one to myself from Taipei on August 16, and it was waiting for me when I got my mail today! Hats off to you, Taiwan postal service. Also, holy cheap, Batman! Just about everything in Taiwan was reasonably priced or even inexpensive, coming from the USA, and the postage for this international postcard cost 11 NTD (New Taiwan Dollars). Guess how much that is in USD? As of this posting, 35 cents! Wow. I was able to send off a few postcards from Taipei, but it was mostly a work trip and I was busy most of the time, so I didn't get a whole lot of mail written or sent there. Also, mailboxes were a little hard to find in my area, so I carried a few postcards around for a number of days until I could finally mail them on Friday.

This Taiwan trip took up a lot of my mental energy this summer, preparing and planning for the trip (work trip - I did some guest teaching and gave a concert, so it was a lot more than just travel adventure!), and I guess I can offer that as an excuse for being so absent from this blog. We also spent the first couple months of the summer at our new house in Maine, which was idyllic but also busy. I did spend a lot of time actually *writing* mail instead of blogging about it, but we also did a lot of work on the house and I spent a ton of time in the gardens.

Garden in the mountains

YES! I have gardens again! I'm super excited about that, though it's challenging to be away from them for weeks or months at a time. The summer days flew by, as I spent hours in the garden with my hands in the dirt.

So right now I'm in a bit of location limbo... a week in Maine, a few days in NH, a week in Taiwan, a few days in NH, nearly a week in Maine, a few days in NH, a weekend in Maine... you get the picture. (Because I'm so back-and-forth, my etsy store will remain closed for a couple more weeks.) And then summer is over and I'm back to school crazy-ness. I've had all kinds of postal adventures in addition to travel adventures, and I'll try to catch up and get them blogged as best I can, but in the meantime... I hope everyone is having a fantastic, mail-filled summer!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Good mail place

Mountain Postcrossing view

I'm settling into summer mode, and getting back into the mail groove! I don't have an actual writing desk here, but I brought a stash of stationery, stamps, and postcards, and I did a lot of Postcrossing cards at this table recently. I think this is going to be my prime mail location ... except I keep getting distracted by the view! This Midwestern gal has become entranced by mountain-watching.

Yesterday I walked the 2 miles (and back) to our new PO Box to get the mail. It was a lovely walk, and it's nice to slow life down so that I can take the time to do this. You notice so much more on foot than you do in a car, and you get a much more intimate feel for the neighborhood. Sometime soon I'll have to take some photos of this sweet little post office.

The cats are settling in nicely to our new place as well, and Oberon also enjoys the light:

Evening garden with Oberon

And in other news, Missive Maven on Etsy has reopened, selling just postcards for the summer.

Happy Summer Mail Days!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Summer vacation: off to Maine

Maine mountain sunset

Here's the news I've been hinting at, and why I'm only selling postcards in my etsy shop for a while: we're heading up to Maine for the summer.

It's a quiet setting on a lake in Western Maine, near the White Mountains. (We can see them from the house, as shown in the photo!) I hope to have a lot of quiet, time, and space for practicing and mail-writing, bird-watching and swimming. It's been a crazy busy year, and I've neglected mail and many other aspects of life in order to give my best effort at grad school... but it's time for a break! We *do* have internet, so I should be able to blog and do Posctrossing and all my other favorite internet-based mail activities... but one of the things to which I'm looking most forward is writing letters while gazing at those mountains, and hearing the birds chirp.

Our mail will be forwarded, and we have a PO box in town. Speaking of that... we'll be in a very small town, not a populous area... and they know me at the PO already! It's a wonderful little post office and I predict some fun stories will come from my mail adventures there.

We're in the process of moving up there now (and taking the cats! Big changes for them!), so I may be laying low for a few days, but there are great things on the horizon.

What about you, blog readers? What do you do in the summertime, and do your mail habits change in the summer?

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Summer update for etsy store: postcards only

Postman sticker

Happy June! I know it's not officially summer until the solstice, but June pretty much means summer to me. I've hinted at some changes afoot for summer... I will save the big reveal for a post coming in the next week or so, but for now, note the heads up:

Over the summer, I will be selling only original postcards in my etsy shop.

WWII V-mail stationery

If you want anything else - such as vintage V-mails, stickers, or vintage postage, buy it now or wait until late August...

I will be removing all options except the original postcards on this Saturday, June 4 - so make sure to buy them before then if you want them! Also on June 4, my etsy store will close briefly while we take care of some personal house business and I'll be unable to access my stock. It will reopen by the middle of next week.

More big news about summer fun coming soon...

Monday, May 16, 2016

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Practice room vs. writing desk

Practice room combo

I haven't written any letters in weeks. I haven't even sent any postcards. I've been in a practice room, often times the one pictured above. (No, I don't play the drum, but I wish I did!) It's been great work, lots of fruitful musical progress, but only music-related (and school-related) writing.

My semester is wrapping up, and I hope to put pen to paper - and new posts to blog! - later in May. I've got some exciting news to share about summer projects...

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Of postcards, music, and blog neglect

Cats and mail, recently sent postcards

Nothing new here: grad school is still taking up most of my time and energy. I love it. I spent 5 hours straight yesterday transcribing Miles Davis and Eric Dolphy solos (and was happy as a clam, despite - or perhaps because of - the extremely challenging nature of the work) for a class assignment. That would have been letter time, but... work first.

I have been sending a lot of postcards, though, both to friends and pen pals, and via Postcrossing. My 10 year anniversary with Postcrossing came and went last month (how is it April already??). I feel like a real old hand now.

I've got some other big things I'm juggling in my personal life right now, both joyful and very difficult, that are taking up a lot of time and emotional energy. I feel awful that I've neglected my beloved blog, but I thank the longtime readers for hanging in there and understanding. April is gonna be all kinds of crazy. Come mid-May, things will open up in my life again... and I hope for a summer of much letter-writing and blogging.

Monday, February 15, 2016

My 10-year Postcrossing Anniversary, and an etsy bargain


I write about Postcrossing a lot on this blog. (I recently received the lovely colorful cat illustration postcard shown above, DE-4784491, from Germany.) It's one of my favorite mail pastimes, and I've been Postcrossing far longer than I've had this blog. For a look through the years, you can check out all my posts tagged with Postcrossing. There are a ton of them.

I am really excited for an upcoming milestone: next month (March 2016) I will celebrate 10 years with Postcrossing. Wow! I wasn't active all the time -- there were definitely a few dormant years in there, and sometimes I send more than others -- but it is really fun to think about how long it's been in my life, and how many thousands of postcards I've exchanged. (As of this post, I've received 1599*, sent 1605, and have 16 traveling -- but those numbers are constantly changing!) I have lived in, and sent postcards from, 4 different states throughout my 10 years of Postcrossing participation.

To celebrate my 10-year anniversary, I'd like to offer a little unofficial discount in my etsy shop, where I sell, among other things, original designs of mail-themed postcards. If you order postcards in my shop, mention "Postcrossing" in the notes to seller section when you place your order, and I'll throw in an extra postcard . That's 6 postcards instead of 5, and I will do that for every postcard pack ordered (up to 5 postcard packs / extra postcards total). This offer is good from now through March 31, 2016.

Happy mailing, and happy Postcrossing!

*Update: a few hours after I originally wrote this post, I received Postcrossing postcard #1600. Woo-hoo!

Monday, February 8, 2016

2016: a year of great (space) stamps

I am extremely excited for the U.S. Postal Service stamp releases this year. There are some great stamps coming! Space and planets are a major theme, and there are three planetary releases: Views of our Planets, Pluto--Explored!, and The Moon global forever stamp. This article has more info about all three issues. I think the "Views of our Planets" stamps look particularly gorgeous and I can't wait to get my hands on them. Word on the street is that these will be released at the World Stamp Show in NYC somewhere between late May and early June.

Continuing the "space" theme, shown above are the stamps that so many of us are really geeking out about: Star Trek stamps! These stamps commemorate the 50th anniversary of the iconic TV show's premiere, and though I don't know the exact release date, it looks to be somewhere in the second half of the year. I'll have to get my eyes on them in person before I pass judgment, but I admit I have reservations about the design. What's with the grainy look? Oh well. I shouldn't quibble about Star Trek stamps, because it is a very fabulous idea.

I'm also a big fan of all the stamp releases that feature musicians... but I'm over the moon (ha! Space pun!) about the upcoming Sarah Vaughan stamps. Jazz singers are always close to my heart - I sing a lot of jazz myself, and there's so much to learn from any singer's individual style - but "Sassy" is in a class by herself.

Sarah Vaughan is not only one of my favorite jazz singers, but she's the one who made me first fall in love with jazz vocals back when I was in high school (and, at the time, singing only classical music). Her style, technique, and artistry are unparalleled, and I can't wait to buy up a TON of these gorgeous stamps to use on my letters. They'll be released on Mach 29, so we don't have too much longer to wait. Design thoughts: again, I'll wait to hold the inked paper in my hands, but this design idea gets a thumbs up from me. I think the artwork is lovely, and I appreciate the decision to use an illustration (a painting?) instead of a photograph. This really captures the mood of her style and her immersion in the music. I love that her eyes are closed, though I know not everyone will agree on that point.

There are more great stamps than I could even share here, and I highly recommend a look at the 2016 stamp release preview to see them all... but I'll just mention that the Pets and Jack-O-Lanterns also look very promising.

And I haven't forgotten about my promise to do a blog post about my new stamp organization system, which is working quite well so far. I have an unexpected snow day today (blizzard in Boston! the first flakes just started falling here in NH at about 11am) so maybe I'll manage some photos and some work on that. But for now, enjoy the stamp preview!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

2016 sticker organization system

Large sticker books

In my previous post about my newly organized writing desk and study, I mentioned I had a new organization system for stickers and stamps, and that I was considering separate blog posts about said organizational systems. Blog readers were so enthusiastic about that prospect that I must deliver! So here's a look at my new organization system for stickers.

A little background: I have a lot of stickers. You will see that in this post. I use them almost exclusively for mail and mail art, decorating envelopes, letters, postcards, etc. Previously they were fairly loose and unorganized, floating through desk drawers and scattered on my desk in piles and mis-matched envelopes... they were a mess. I could never find anything. I would say, "hey, this person loves owls, I know I have some adorable tiny owl stickers somewhere," and then I would root through desk drawers searching for them. It was a waste of time. I always meant to organize my stickers, but it was a pretty huge project. As I was setting up my writing desk, I had both energy and inspiration, and decided to do it. I should have taken photos of all the piles of my stickers as they were spread out across the entire study floor, but I didn't. Oh well.

So, my current system involves the following components, all of which I will show and explain:
  • Large sticker books
  • Small sticker books / boxes of stickers
  • Loose stickers sorted by theme in pocket dividers in a 3-ring binder
  • Loose stickers sorted by theme in drawers

    Above we have the large sticker books, all together at last. They are all the same size, mostly but not exclusively from Dover. I am particularly fond of the Edward Gorey and Kliban cat sticker books. These live on top of my stationery shelves, normally tucked in next to my mail organizer. (If you want to see the whole setup in contect, see my previous post about my newly organized writing desk and study.)

    Small sticker books and label boxes

    Small sticker books and sticker boxes, which fortunately are all about the same size, are stacked in a pile on top of the stationery shelves, right next to my writing desk. This seems haphazard and isn't completely ideal, but I have in my head a fairly accurate idea of which stickers live there. The small books are almost all Dover, and include essentials like the Glitter old-time cats and kittens stickers (kitty kitsch!) and the Cavallini Par Avion Tin. There are also a couple of random notebooks and journals in there. Ooops. Nothing's perfect, folks!

    Sticker binder: fauna and mythical creatures

    And now, the meat of the matter: loose stickers. These were the biggest nightmare. I do not assert that my system is ideal, and I created it on the fly with materials on hand: a 3-ring binder and a few extra plastic 3-pocket postcard holders. Each pocket has a theme, and here we have fauna (glitter and non-glitter) and fantasy/mythical creatures (hello, unicorns!). You can see through to some of the pages behind it. I will spare you each and every one of the sections, but others include glitter/sparkle stars and rainbows, bats/Halloween, flora, objects, etc. This system clearly still has flaws, a major one being that it's very easy for stickers to fall out the top, so I'm careful when I'm handle it. A minor flaw is that I still have to pull them out of the sections to find something, but it is less of a hassle than rooting through entire drawers as it used to be.

    Sticker drawer: cats

    The drawers still contain loose stickers, but each drawer has its own exclusive theme: the largest themes of the lot. This drawer holds exclusively CAT STICKERS. Ha. 'Nuff said.

    Sticker drawer: mail / writing, snowflakes

    The other drawer has one main theme with a smaller unrelated subset. The main theme is mail / meta / writing (air mail labels, mail-themed stickers, stamp-themed stickers, stickers of pens, etc) and the minor theme is snowflakes, because I tend to use a lot of snowflake stickers, and I like them close at hand.

    So there you have it. My system is highly idiosyncratic and tailored to my own tastes and collections, but so far it is working extremely well for me. I'm curious to see how this system holds up over time; I am sure I will develop some complaints, but it's better than a mess of unorganized stickers!
  • Monday, January 18, 2016

    New study and writing desk setup

    Oberon explores the stationery shelves

    We moved five months ago, and it has taken me this long (remember how grad school ate my life?) to get my writing desk and workspace set up in my new study. Oberon and Stella were gracious enough (or curious enough) to help me with this little photo shoot, and above you can see Oberon sniffing around near that one empty shelf cubby on my paper and stationery shelves. (How long will it stay empty? Hmmm...)

    New study and writing desk

    Here's a closer look at the writing desk itself. Yes, that is a towering stack of boxed postcards on the desk, and on the bulletin board above the desk, some of my favorite received mail and mail art.

    For the first time in many years, I have a room of my own, and I won't go so far as to say I've finished the entire study -- sections of the room are carefully omitted from these photos, because they're still a mess -- but I'm thrilled to have my letter-writing materials all set up and organized.

    In the future, maybe I'll need to do a blog post about how intensely I've organized my stamps and stickers now, in a way they've never been organized before; this deep organization project is something I've long been itching to do. It's really exciting and it took me many hours to achieve, with stamps and stickers spread out all over the floor, but I finally know exactly where to find everything. Not only is it efficient, but after years of having things all jumbled together, it's also very satisfying.

    Stella in my new study

    I'm thrilled to have natural light nearby. My writing desk in DC was shoved into a dark corner, and not an entirely lovely place to write... but it wasn't an entirely lovely apartment, either. Here, I have my own room, and nice big window right next to the desk. And that's Stella on the floor, walking towards me as I take the photo.

    Best of all, this setup makes me really want to write letters! Today is my last day of winter break (back to school tomorrow), so I'd better carpe diem while I still have the time.

    Saturday, January 2, 2016

    Missive Maven on Etsy reopened for 2016!

    As long as there are postmen, life will have zest

    Happy New Year! I hope everyone is as excited about 2016 as I am. I think it's going to be a wonderful year.

    As one of my first major mail actions of the year, I have FINALLY re-opened my Etsy shop! I closed it when we moved in August, and while I had every intention of opening it again in September, my first semester schedule in grad school was just too punishing. I have a lighter course load for the second semester, so I'll have time to tend to any etsy orders that come in... and I finally got my shop inventory a little organized in my study at home. So, for anyone who's been waiting, or curious, pop on over to Missive Maven on Etsy and have a look around.

    Pictured above is one of my favorite designs, Zesty French Postman, which is available as pack of 5 postcards, a set of 3 notecards, or as part of the Combination postcard pack.

    May 2016 be a year of fabulous mail!