Saturday, May 19, 2018

Getting Ready for the National Stationery Show 2018

The National Stationery Show (NSS) is held every May in New York City and this year, for the first time since 2011, I will be attending.
This annual trade show showcases product and trends from 750 vendors/booths to over 8,000 visitors, mostly store owners and product buyers.
Years ago I visited the Rifle Paper Co at the show when they were just starting out. Now, I see their product everywhere, including this lovely postage stamp that was released earlier this year and was designed by Anna Bond (co-owner and founder of the Rifle Paper Co) for the USPS.

I wonder what treasures I'll find this year? I plan to take lots of pictures and maybe some video and will share all when I return from the show next week.

Stay tuned.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Pilot Fountain Pen Review

I recently purchased this affordable fountain pen to add to my small fountain pen collection. I don't use fountain pens too often but I'm trying to improve my skill level and comfort with them, so I selected the Pilot Metropolitan Collection Fountain Pen.
The pen was less than $13 on Amazon. The description calls it a medium nib, but it looks and writes more like a fine point to me. I usually prefer fine point pens but had opted for a medium nib to change things up a bit.
The pen comes with both a converter and an ink cartridge. So far I've only used the converter as I have so many bottles of ink (14 and counting).
In the images below I used Private Reserve Ink Bottle Copper Burst which is a lovely shade of brown.
The pen writes smooth, but I've found that it skips occasionally causing me to have to go back and rewrite a letter.
There is no bleed thru in the Moleskin notebook, but you can see the outline of the words through the paper. The weight and feel of the pen are good - not too heavy and not too light. I find the smooth barrel of the pen beckons to me from its perch when I'm using a different writing instrument. Each pen has a different purpose. Not all are meant for every day use.
Overall, the pen writes fairly decent, and for the price it is a good buy.
I haven't tried the ink cartridge and probably won't for awhile as I have so many bottles of ink to dip into. I'm glad to be back to having a hand fountain pen at my desk and may look at what it will take to get my others out of their boxes.

What's your favorite writing pen these days?

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Journal Giveaway

Fox Chapel Publishing has recently sent me some journals to review and give away. You can click on any of the four titles and it will take you to the page on the Fox Chapel website that includes a video and more info about each journal.

My favorite is the Hello Angel Lined Journal. Isn't this a gorgeous image? This same photo is also featured on their DO Magazine (issue 6) which they also publish. There are no guided entries, but there are plenty of illustrations that are colorful and whimsical.
They have a few different prayer journals, including the one below, My Prayer Journal. This has pages of illustrations and daily prayer journaling questions by Joanne Fink.The font choice is lovely and the guided entries are very useful: Today I Pray; Today I am in Awe of: Today I Regret; Today I am Grateful for. There's also a monthly listing for each month and a prayer tracker for your prayers or those you are praying for.
The Tangle Easy Guided Journal is a lined journal with mandalas -some to color and some that are in color. Here are some sample journal entries: What animal is most similar to you? What kind of friend are you? What did you want to be when you grew up? What is your earliest memory?
Here's a better view of the mandala on the front cover.
The Woodstock Dot Journal is filled with dot pages and has a few pages of bullet journal instructions and examples included at the beginning of the journal. 2019 will be the 50th Anniversary of the 3-day Woodstock Celebration that took place in 1969.

The Woodstock journal is paperback and all of the others are hardcover. Each of the journals has a retail price of $7.99.

I didn't test the paper quality as I opted to do the giveaways instead. I can tell you that none of these lies flat as the binding is not flexible.

You can enter by doing any of the following:
1. Leave a comment on this blog with the choice of journal you would like.
2. Use #LandJgiveaway on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram (limit one per venue) along with your choice of journal.
3. Mail a card, letter or postcard to me at:
Letters & Journals
PO Box 120052
St Paul, MN 55112
Limit one entry per type (ex: 1 on Instagram, 1 letter, 1 comment, 1 Twitter, 1 Facebook). Winners will be announced on June 1, 2018. Limited to US entries only.

Good Luck!

Monday, April 23, 2018

A Visit to Paper Source in Edina

I love visiting stationery stores! Looking, touching, dreaming, buying. There are four Paper Source stores in the Twin Cities. This post is about my recent visit to the Edina store. In a previous post, I wrote about my visit to the Mall of America store. You can read that here.
The ladies working here were super friendly and seemed like they were having fun at their jobs- helping customers, changing displays, answering the phone. Very upbeat! I liked it.
So many good things on display - lots of pens, markers, planners, note cards, calendars and so much more!
This cute back door was at the back of the store. The store had lots of light mostly coming through the front and side windows.
They even had a public bathroom right in the middle of the store. It was perfect! Maybe all the stores have one. I've never checked before. But was delighted to find one unexpectedly.
I've been on the hunt for pretty papers like these (below) to use as backgrounds in my new photo light box as I strive to improve the photographs I take for this blog (It's a work in progress).
Lots of lettering promos and books.
 Are you ready to take your lettering to the next level?
 You might want to see if your local Paper Source store is hosting their own classes.
I took a calligraphy class years ago and it helped improve my penmanship quite a bit. Maybe it's time for something new. How about you?

Sunday, April 15, 2018

April is National Letter Writing Month

April is National Letter Writing Month. How are you honoring this tradition? My guess is that for those who write letters, it won't matter what month it is (although it's always nice to having something you enjoy be honored or nationally recognized). And for those who don't write letters, it also doesn't matter what month it is - letter writing month or not.
I think the recognition of the Letter Writing Month does a few things. It helps us become more aware of our hobby as a national pastime. And, like many pastimes and hobbies, it's not for everyone. But the ones who identify strongly as letter writers, it helps us feel a connection with others who also classify themselves among this group.
Like any hobby enthusiast, there is also a group of fans who don't actually write letters (for whatever reason) but love the concept of writing letters and want to identify themselves as belonging to the group. Maybe they can be called Latent Letter Writers. I think the same thing exists for all hobbies and passions (tea drinkers, knitters, golfers, calligraphers, people who journal or use day planner. You get the idea).
In addition to appreciating letter writing as a national hobby, Letter Writing Month also promotes the stationery stores and product lines related to the industry by helping them connect letter writing enthusiasts to their product or service. For many of us finding the perfect pen, ink and writing paper is a ritual and highly valued as part of our craft. For others, selecting any pen or pencil, some plain paper and commence writing with no thought or concern for their tools,only the end result of creating a missive to send. Along the entirety of this spectrum is everything else in between the extremes. Where do you fit in?
Finally, I think the Letter Writing Month allows letter writers a way to connect with other self-identified letter writers. Blog posts like this, discussion venues in all types of social media, articles in the mass media all create an opening to allow others to see or join, admire or dismiss this soul-enriching pastime.

Enough blogging. Time to go write a letter. You know- in honor of National Letter Writing Month.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Roatan Post Office

In February of this year we went to Roatan, Honduras for a winter getaway. I had never heard of the island of Roatan before discussing this vacation with our friends.

"Who goes to the Honduras for vacation?" I recall asking. They explained that Roatan is an island off the coast of Honduras that is renowned for its snorkeling and scuba diving. You get a general idea of its location in the map below.
Roatan is in the Caribbean and is placed along the world's second largest coral reef, Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. Here's a view from our beach on West Bay, where we could walk out or swim to the coral reef and enjoy the views of ocean life.
What's a visit to a new place without sending some postcards? The message boards all warned that it most likely wasn't worth the effort as mail (especially postcards) rarely reached their destination out of Roatan. They also warned that it was impossible to buy stamps anywhere except the post office, which was a 30-minute, one way, taxi ride to Coxen Hole from our resort at Infinity Bay.

Here is a photo of the Post Office in Coxen Hole.
I did ask at the hotel gift shop as well as a few other local tourist shops near our hotel about purchasing stamps. One woman who owned a t-shirt shop explained that the hotels and shops like hers had to stop selling stamps because it was discovered that employees were stealing stamps and not mailing letters. This is a very poor island and is hardly recognized or supported by the mainland (according to locals) so they rely on tourists for their livelihood.

In hindsight I should have taken a photograph of the sheet of stamps I purchased. I bought 10 postcard stamps and five letter stamps. I did take a picture of two letters I was going to mail from Roatan, but in the end I decided to wait and mail them when I returned home.
I left the Honduran stamp on the envelope, but added a US stamp.
I also mailed a postcard to myself as I always do when we travel so that I can add it to my travel scrapbook. It has been 6 weeks and I haven't seen it yet. Possibly, I never will. But I won't give up hope.

My friend went to Cuba last 4th of July and it took until Thanksgiving for me to receive the postcard she sent.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

9th Anniversary of Letters & Journals Blog

Today, Letters & Journals is celebrating nine years of blogging! Wow! I've been working on this magazine concept for years which is why I started the blog in the first place.
It's taking me much longer than I would have imagined to get this off the ground, but I haven't given up. I still envision an interactive website with a print edition of a magazine that:

  * Comes out 1-2 times per year (eventually 3-4)
  * Is 80-100 pages in length
  * Filled with articles all about Mail, Journals, Planners and so much more
  * Features stationery stores in different cities
  * Features events and promotions going on around the country
  * Contests and giveaways

The new website is scheduled for launch this summer with Issue #1 of Letters & Journals planned for summer 2019.

What would you like to see in the magazine?