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Happiness in an Envelope

032614 Bring on Spring 300x300 Happiness in an EnvelopeIt only takes a small piece of snail mail to turn an entire day around. The last few weeks haven’t exactly been the easiest to deal with, so it was with a slightly cloudy mood that I checked my mail the other day and found a wonderful surprise.

My friend, Julie, is a very, very busy person. She has two young children, and somehow she and her husband juggle freelance careers in one of the most expensive cities in the United States while raising a vibrant and dynamic family. I happen to know that Julie is in the middle of a couple good-sized projects (thank you, guidebooks), but she still managed to find time to make and send me a piece of mail that really lit up my day.

The envelope was a standard business-sized envelope, but inside I found an index card-sized pocket filled with colorful confetti. On the outside it says ‘Bring on Spring.’ Julie didn’t send a letter or even sign the confetti-bursting pocket. She didn’t need to. Sometimes the most perfect pieces of snail mail are simple and small yet thoughtful and able to change the course of a day for the better, just like this one.

Rewind to Valentine’s Day

031214 valentines 223x300 Rewind to Valentines DayI’m a little late in writing about my Valentine’s Day cards, but I wanted to share my craft magic of the season before is too far in the past to remember. I like decorating my own note cards and making my own birthday cards, and one of my favorite holidays to send greetings is Valentine’s Day. A couple years ago, I found vintage-esque valentines and last year I spread the love with handmade cards.

This past holiday season, I came upon a huge display at Michael’s of super discounted stickers. I stocked up on several sheets, including some heart-shaped stickers and lovely one-word messages. I figured there was a high chance that these would figure into my valentines for this year, but I wasn’t sure how, exactly, until I wandered the aisles of the One Spot at Target. There, tucked into one of the bins were two packs of six cut-out hearts each. They were so simple, so nondescript, so PERFECT for my valentines! Read more…

Letter Writing Binge

022614 Letter 223x300 Letter Writing BingeWhy, oh, why do I leave letter writing to the last minute? Why do I wait to write back to people until I have a stack of letters several dozen deep? I’m not a procrastinator, but when it comes to letter writing, I sure do a good job of not doing a dang thing until I almost feel stressed out about not writing letters.

Admittedly, January was busy. I traveled a lot … more than half the month. I had a lot of work that required I play a lot of catch up and chase sources to meet deadlines. And I fought a sinus infection on top of all of that. I know, woe is me.

But then it was February, and I had a stack of letters that had accumulated over the winter holidays. On a free Saturday afternoon, I gathered a stack of stationery, an envelope stuffed with stickers and a handful of stamps. I cleared the dining room table and started writing. I sent birthday cards and thank you notes. I wrote postcards and made valentines. I spent a long time writing a few letters and also sent off brief greetings to a few other people I haven’t written to in awhile. Read more…

A Trip Without Mail

As I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, I tend to send mail when I travel. (See Ecuador and Canada as examples.) I recently cruised the Caribbean for a week on assignment with stops in the Bahamas, Mexico, Cayman Islands and Key West. At each stop, the temptation to buy postcards and stamps almost got the best of me, but on this trip, I avoided all snail mail.

On this particular assignment, I got to bring my two current foreign exchange students, and it was very important to me that the three of us thoroughly enjoyed our time and experiences together. This was about me and them, not anyone else. Although I was briefly in touch with others while traveling via electronic communication, it was more important that I sat with my girls by the pool, went to the piano bar with them and that we enjoyed each other’s company instead of focusing on other things like writing letters. Read more…

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

121113 Holiday stamps 300x225 Its the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Tis the season to stock up on holiday forever stamps! We took our family Christmas card photo about a week ago and now I’m eagerly awaiting the package so I can address and mail off nearly one hundred cards to family and friends. Additionally, I’ve started hand making holiday cards for my closest family members, and our kids have stocked up on boxes and customs forms so they can mail all their goodies home in time for the holidays.

Though the handwritten letter is practically a thing of the past, I don’t think the holiday card has fallen in its footsteps. Often, the holiday season is the only time of the year when I receive written correspondence from some people, and I relish collecting the mail, opening the envelopes and reading the messages inside of the card, even if they are a bit generic. It’s pretty much the only time of the year that we’re guaranteed to get some sort of fun mail every single day. Read more…

Overseas Shipping: A Lost Package and Lessons Learned

Remember a couple months ago when we were going through the great weight debate, trying to figure out what to ship overseas and how to maximize the weight requirements to get the most bang for our buck? Well, we sent off our boxes in full glory, packed to the rim with gifts, cards and care package goodies of those things our kids love most from American but can’t get in their home countries.

We sent the box through the USPS to Czech Republic in the second week of October. Alexandra’s birthday was at the end of October, so we wanted to make sure she got her gift in time, but we also included presents for Christmas and Names Day, a Slovakian holiday tradition. Her birthday came and went, but we knew the box would arrive any day, so we didn’t sweat it. Then mid-November came and went, and now we’ve reached December. It’s been more than eight weeks since the box left my hands, and it still hasn’t arrived at our girl’s college in Czech Republic. Read more…

Who Buys Stationery Anyway?

112713 Stationery 300x223 Who Buys Stationery Anyway?It’s only natural that when I make my way to Home Goods, TJ Maxx, Target or any local boutique shop, I poke through the piles of stationery and stacks of note cards sitting on the shelves. I sometimes open the boxes to feel the envelopes and look at the variety of designs on the cards. Often, I fight the urge not to walk out of the store with yet another collection of writing paper. Honestly, it’s the last thing I need.

But, knowing that the vast majority of people don’t send handwritten letters, I often wonder: If I’m not buying these note cards and stationery, who is? Why is there so much stationery available, and why is letterpress popular? Who is feeding this market? I personally think stationery is beautiful; sometimes the artwork on it, especially the pressed pieces, is truly stunning and could be framed as a home accessory. But if stationery or note cards are being used for artwork, then why is it sold in boxes of ten, twelve or twenty? Read more…

Snail Mail Snippets from Ecuador

112013 Mailbox 199x300 Snail Mail Snippets from EcuadorI just returned from my latest travel adventure, this time on assignment onboard the National Geographic-Lindblad Endeavour in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. I’ll be writing extensively about my experience over on my travel blog, but for the purposes of The 52 Letters Project, I wanted to share my snail mail story from there with you.

I spent just over a week in the Galapagos Island, and I was bound and determined to send a few postcards from my trip. This is easier said than done given the fact that I was traveling by boat for the whole trip and the vast majority of our stops were on uninhabited islands. This meant that finding postcards and then finding a place to send them were limited. Luckily, the smart folks on the Endeavour have considered just about everything, and there were a variety of free postcards onboard the ship of a selection of wildlife as well as the boat itself. Read more…

Leaving Letters Behind

111313 Left behind letters 300x225 Leaving Letters BehindBefore I leave for any trip, I put together my obligatory pack of letter writing gear, but if I’m gone longer than a few days, I also prep something else.

I always send postcards home to my husband (and myself), but before I leave, I often write letters that I leave behind. They aren’t so much letters as little pick-me-up notes, often to be opened in the middle of the week. I know there’s an element of surprise when I leave behind an envelope that says “Open on Wednesday” or “Keep sealed until the weekend.” On one particular trip, when I was gone for a couple of weeks, I left behind several short notes, one to be opened each day that I was gone. Read more…

What Goes Around Comes Around: The Snail Mail Version

110613 Danish postcards 300x225 What Goes Around Comes Around: The Snail Mail VersionLast year, our foreign exchange student from Denmark wrote his very first letter and addressed his very first envelope. He sent exactly one piece of his own correspondence back to his home country while he was living in the United States. As an American family, we also sent a few Christmas cards to his family in Denmark, and we wrote a joint thank you note for the gifts they sent for the holidays. These were his first few baby steps into the world of snail mail.

Me being me, I’ve consistently written snail mail to him since he’s been back in Denmark. I mail postcards when I travel, I write long letters when I’m home and occasionally I put together a little care package of goodies we’ve picked up. He’s been back in Denmark since the beginning of June and over the course of the last few months, we have received two surprise postcards from him in the mail. Yesterday, we received a little care package from him as well, which included a letter written on the back of two vintage postcards he found in his town as well as two funny magnets he bought (we had another Danish foreign exchange student translate them for us). Read more…