Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Eclipse postmarks

For those of you in the USA or nearby regions - did you get to see the eclipse? It was amazing! I was up in Maine, far from the "path of totality," where we only got a 56% eclipse, but it was still fantastic. My favorite part was how it got cooler, the light got weird, and all the birds and crickets started singing their evening songs. Coooool!

And even cooler, from a postal perspective, you can still get a special eclipse postmark! Of course I learned about this from the fabulous Letter Writers Alliance. I haven't gotten one myself yet but I'm going to send off for one of these babies ASAP. Here are the details, via the LWA:

Total Eclipse Postmarks

Don't wait too long, though, it's only good for a few more weeks.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Garden news, or, How is July almost over?

2017-07-23 08.07.30

The summer is flying by! I have definitely been writing lots of mail, but admittedly I have been spending more time in my garden. I can only garden in the summer, so I try to live it up and maximize my outdoor gardening time during every available moment.

2017-07-29 18.24.50-2

The weather has been truly gorgeous, and I have had many available moments to have my hands in the dirt! Since I haven't posted in a while (again), I wanted to share with you photos of where and how I've been spending most of my time.

2017-07-29 12.49.08

I am a sucker for color, and I'm all about the flowers! (Alex does the veggies, and I do the flowers. Though he does a few flowers here and there, and I do no veggies. But we have a nice little team thing going.)

I've also been posting to instagram a lot lately, so if you want to have a look at my photos there, have a look at my MissiveMaven instagram pix.

Outgoing postcards, June 2017

I've been writing a lot more mail but not photographing much of it, but here's a nice picture I arranged earlier in the summer.

How is your summer going? Are you having a good mail summer?

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Fine Finnish stamps: Miau mail!

I received a Postcrossing postcard recently with these fine stamps - I had to take a video of the swan stamp to show off the metallic gold. It also included the adorable "miau mail" priority sticker, and a marvelous reindeer stamp, too.

Here's the front of the postcard, a lovely image of a Siberian cat. Thank you, Tiina, for this wonderful Postcrossing treat!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Response from Postcard United

A few days ago I wrote a blog post about Postcrossing United, with some observations about its similarity to Postcrossing and a request for information from anyone who had tried it.

While I haven't heard directly from any of the users of the site, I did get a response from Postcard United that I would like to share here for anyone who, like me, is curious about the site and wants more information.

On June 24, I signed up for the site out of curiosity, and on that day I used their contact form to ask the following question:
"Hi there,
I am an active Postcrosser and just saw this website mentioned in someone's profile there. I am very curious and did not see this in the FAQ - how is this different from Postcrossing? (Postcrossing.com) And what country is this project based in? Thank you! Ilona / Missive Maven"
On July 6, I wrote my original blog post about it.

Last night (July 9), I received the following response to my June 24 Postcard United contact form inquiry:
"Dear Ilona,

Thank you for contacting us, it seems that you have joined the bandwagon of people who seems to have hatred for us, the reason we are saying so it seems to a lot of people that there's nothing good about PostcardUnited.com you mentioned that the blog is not updated, and we have issues with English maybe you can help us, by pointing out those to us for us to fix.

also you should advise your reader from the UK not to generate fake accounts at your website.

when PostcardUnited.com was created it was created with love and to united people trough Postcard Exchange, and even the website that you love so much is guilty of interfering with PostcardUnited.Com

Thank You
Admin (3)"
The email came as a no-reply address so I am not able to respond to the email. I certainly didn't intend to sow any "hatred" and was merely curious about the website, so it saddens me that the creators took my search for additional information in a negative light. My two original questions - how is this different from Postcrossing, and in what country is the website based - remain unanswered.

I share this information as an update for any of my blog readers who, like me, are curious.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Postcard United - a Postcrossing imitator?

From the profile of another user on Postcrossing, I came across a new(ish - or just new to me perhaps) postcard exchange website called Postcard United. Is anyone else familiar with it? It seems to be an absolute Postcrossing imitator, with very little difference in the two sites. There's nothing wrong with that, and sometimes imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and all that, but it just makes me really curious. I signed up for it but haven't sent any postcards through Postcard United, since I am very devoted to (and very happy with) Postcrossing. But for anyone who has tried it, I'm very curious about the differences.

For example, I cannot find in what country it's based. The site is written in English but there are a number of phrases that make it appear that the creators are not regular English speakers (or perhaps not used to writing in English). Again, nothing wrong with that - we English speakers are very privileged and we need to get off our high horses regarding our native language and how lucky we are that it is so commonly spoken throughout the world - but it makes me realize I do appreciate the transparency with which the Postcrossing founders communicate their history and their whereabouts, and their use of the (optional) support funds.

They never mention Postcrossing on the Postcard United website, but in a handy differentiation, the latter uses 3-letter country codes as opposed to Postcrossing's 2-letter country codes, so users of both sites should be able to differentiate immediately from which website the received postcard originated.

Like Postcrossing, Postcard United is free, and uses a similar setup with profiles (though unlike Postcrossing, you cannot view a user profile or get much information on the site without signing up for it), and of course I have no idea how the coding and algorithms work behind the scenes. But if you've already tried it, I'd love to hear more, and if you're itching to send postcards (and maybe you're new to Postcrossing and have reached your send limit there), here's a new experiment for you.

Also, Postcard United does not seem to have a Twitter presence (on their site they have a Twitter icon, but it just takes you to Twitter.com), so I can't do any sleuthing there. I did find a profile for @PostcardUnited, but it hasn't ever tweeted. Hmm.... They do have a Facebook page but it isn't very active, and the blog on their own site isn't terribly updated either (ooooh... that's like the pot calling the kettle, right folks? I've not terribly active on this blog lately, either, but I'm not set up as a postcard-sending website).

So! If you have any thoughts or opinions to share, please do!

UPDATE on July 10: I received a response from Postcard United, see the new blog post for more info

In other news, I've been meaning to post a happy summer update... I've been in my garden a lot, and writing many postcards and a few letters, and I have some lovely photos to share - coming soon!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Here is my music for you

06 God Bless The Child

I have mentioned a number of times that grad school has kept me from my letter-writing habits... and at last, I am finished with grad school. I am looking forward to a return to letter-writing, especially over my summer vacation - more on that later! - but now I would like to take a moment to share with you an accomplishment of which I'm very proud. Did you know that I'm a professional musician and voice teacher?

On 23 April 2017, I gave a recital for the completion of my Master of Music degree at New England Conservatory of Music. I prepared for this recital for over two years, and it was a very big accomplishment for me, in large part because it marked my debut as a songwriter. I sang 14 songs, 5 of which were my own original songs, and accompanied myself on piano on 4 of them. (For the others, I either sang a cappella or had other fine musicians collaborate on piano.) You can see all the videos on my recital page on my professional website: http://www.ilonatipp.com/solo-concert-2017. Of, if you'd like to see the songs in the order in which I programmed and performed them, you can see the the YouTube playlist.

I'll share with you here one particularly letter-related song I wrote:

© Copyright Ilona Tipp 2017, All Rights Reserved

This song, "Best of the Real," had its genesis in me staring at a pile of letters to which I needed to respond, and gave birth to the opening song lyric, "all the letters left unwritten..."

I hope you enjoy my music. You can peruse more of it on my musician website at ilonatipp.com. I'm not yet sure Where I May Go next professionally, but I'll be sure to keep you posted. I would love to hear your feedback on my music if you'd like to share!

And on the letter-writing front, tomorrow we move up to Maine for the summer, and I always joyfully return to much happy mail-making over summer vacation.

All information, music, lyrics, sound recordings, content, and linked content connected to a third party storage website on this web page is owned by Ilona Tipp. Any attempt or claim of ownership by any other party other than Ilona Tipp is illegal by all copyright laws, and can be pursued with legal action. By downloading content from this web page, the party doing so completely understands the restrictions of privacy outlined above (if applicable) and that all content is the intellectual property of and owned by Ilona Tipp. © Copyright Ilona Tipp 2017, All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

UPDATE: Etsy changed deadline, my shop open until May 31

BREAKING NEWS: Etsy pushback has worked. Enough sellers have shown anger and planned to leave over the new Etsy forced payment system that Etsy has pushed back the deadline. My sincere apologies for the dire "my shop is closing today" warnings, because I only learned five minutes ago that they have moved the deadline from May 17 to May 31.

If you want the backstory on all this, please see my post about why Etsy's changes are forcing my shop to close. This has all been very sudden, and my very cynical mind is that Etsy is seeing the bump in sales over sellers who are doing "shop-closing" sales just like I am, and has decided that two more weeks of delaying the forced changes will get more money for them. And they're right. And perhaps they are weighing the words of so many people, who just like me have said they will quit spending their money at Etsy over these changes. I can't speak for others, but any small profits I make from my shop (and after the materials, shipping, time, etc, the profits are tiny indeed) go right back into other purchases at Etsy. If you don't want to read my post about why Etsy's changes are forcing my shop to close, let me just say that much of the issue hinges on use of PayPal, and word on the street is that Etsy may be planning to phase out PayPal altogether - for buyers as well as sellers. So from me, they'll lose their profits from my listings and sales, AND the profits from my purchases based on those sales. Sigh. I'll get off my soapbox now, but if anyone has questions or comments, please let me know. I'm happy, and even eager, to have a dialog on this.

So, this means my shop will stay open for two more weeks. I will continue to work hard to get the word out. To those of you who have already placed orders thinking they're the last, I cannot thank you enough for your support (and hey, if your items arrive and you love them and decide to order more, there's still time).

Today is the LAST DAY for my Etsy store!

Postman sticker

UPDATE: I learned at 11:45am on May 16 that Etsy has pushed back the deadline so my shop stays open until May 31. Learn more here

Today is the very last day to buy anything from my etsy shop, Missive Maven on etsy. After today, it closes forever. It is a long and complicated story involving policy changes at etsy that relate to payment, which affect the buyer somewhat and the seller dramatically. You can read the whole story in my prior post if you're interested.

Letterbird Letterbird postcard set

The quantities of stickers are somewhat limited and what is listed on the site is what is accurate. When they're gone, they're gone. There are more cards and postcards available, but that point is moot since the shop closes at the end of the day today, so buy now if you want anything! (I do not know exactly what time the shop will close. That is up to etsy.)


I'm very sad and upset about this, but there's nothing I can do except exit as gracefully and gratefully as I can. I may look to re-open another online store elsewhere next fall (suggestions and opinions are welcome!), but nothing will be sold online before then... and I may decide not to reopen. I thank you for your great support of my shop over the years, and to everyone who's bought more items in the last few days and shown a lot of love. It's been a lovely time.

Last chance to buy Missive Maven etsy goods!!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Etsy shop closing on May 17, possibly forever!

As long as there are postmen, life will have zest

UPDATE: I learned at 11:45am on May 16 that Etsy has pushed back the deadline so my shop stays open until May 31. Learn more here

I have sad news. My etsy shop, Missive Maven on etsy, will be closing on May 17 - indefinitely. Possibly forever.

Last chance to buy Missive Maven etsy goods!!

The short info: if you want any items from my shop - like my very popular mail-themed postcards or stickers, BUY THEM NOW. You may not have another chance after May 17. (It's also unclear to me whether the final ending will be May 17 or May 18, so the sooner the better, if you want to be careful.)

The longer story: for a huge host of business reasons, etsy is now requiring all its sellers to use their own "checkout" and payment system instead of PayPal. You can still use PayPal (though they are phasing it out) but sellers must opt in to using the Etsy payment system, which requires linking a bank account and sharing all kinds of personal information like forms of ID with etsy - things I wouldn't share with most people. I do not run my business as my living, it's very much a hobby shop, so I guess I can afford to stand on principles here... but it leaves a very bad taste in my mouth that etsy will effectively close down shops that do not comply with their new payment system (which has a whole host of other glitches, including witholding money from sellers, that I won't even get into).

I am researching other online selling venues including Amazon marketplace, Zibbet, and more - I would love your feedback! Do you have any suggestions for a great online marketplace? (I would prefer a marketplace that has its own traffic, like etsy or Amazon, to a standalone checkout system, but I am open.) Do you have strong feelings about any of this? I want to know!

It is possible that etsy is getting enough pushback on this issue - many, many sellers say they're leaving and taking their wares elsewhere - that they will change their minds. So I'm not saying I'm closing "forever," but that is certainly a possibility. The timing is good for me as I'm about to move to Maine for the summer, and this takes away my decision of whether or not to move my etsy stock with me: I won't. I may or may not reopen elsewhere, but if I do, it likely won't be until the fall. And I may not reopen at all... this may be the end of all the things I sell in my shop, Missive Maven original goods as well as vintage items. (That's another thing: I need a sales platform that allows selling of both new and vintage goods.)

Unanswered correspondence: Do it now! Unanswered correspondence: Do it Now! postcard

So again, the big takeaway: if you want something, buy it now before it may be gone forever!

Last chance to buy Missive Maven etsy goods!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Video of cats and mail

Not a lot of substance in this post, folks, but I present to you a video of cats getting, playing with, or attacking the mail.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy New Year! I'm still here!

Hello dear blog readers,
I'm sorry to have been so absent from this blog. I've been busy with grad school, to the point of where it's overtaken all my time for hobbies like letters and postcards. (I haven't even sent a Postcrossing postcard in months!) I'd like to say I'll be better about it now, but realistically... until I get through my graduation in May, I'll probably lay low. But I'm still out here, writing mail when I can, and dreaming about the day when I can return to mail (and my garden!) in the future. Rest assured I am loving my grad program, and if you're curious about what I've been up to professionally, please check out my music website at ilonatipp.com.

Happy New Year, and Happy Mailing!