Monday, December 31, 2012

Letters to Sandy Hook

The gift of mail. 
Helping lift someone's spirits if even just for a moment. Giving them something to focus on to help take them outside of their pain. Offering a distant hug written on any note card or paper, wrapped in an envelope and stamped with love.  Do not think these things don't matter.

 The tragedy at Sandy Hook broke my heart: the senselessness of the act, the terror of the victims and survivors, the sadness and confusion of the families and the nation.

What can we do? Pray? Send flowers? Sign a petition? Participate in the #26ActsofKindness (Twitter)?

I chose to send letters. Somewhere I came across this post office box that was set up for the families of the victims:

PO Box 3700, Newtown, CT 06470

So I looked up the name and photo of each victim and began the process of saying a prayer and sending a card with just a short note letting the family know that we're thinking of them. I am doing this over the process of weeks so that I'm not hurried. I like to spend time in silent meditation for each soul. 
Susan Piver has a beautiful blog post on another way to help the victims and their families, as well as yourself and anyone affected by this tragedy.
I was reminded of the movie Calendar Girls where one of the women was helped through the grief of losing her husband to cancer by reading and responding to the massive amounts of mail that was sent to her. Anything to just get through the days when you're in shock and your grief is raw.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

TUL Pen Review and Giveaway

Dec. 11, 2012 Winner Update - Sandra S has won the set of 4 pens from TUL. Congratulations, Sandra!

TUL pens has offered to host a giveaway of the set of four pens I am about to review. I must admit I've been a fan of the TUL pens since they first came out in 2006. TUL pens is a brand of OfficeMax and are only available there.

I thought it might be easiest to write my reviews with each of the pens and then post the review with the scanned photo.

For details on the Giveaway, skip to the bottom of this post.

 Ballpoint pen review (Medium point)
Rollerball (Medium)
 Gel Pen (Medium)
 Marker Pen (Fine)
Like most pen enthusiasts, I like my pens a certain way- rich flowing ink, a fine point and a weight that's not too light and not too heavy, although, sometimes heavy is good if it's weighted just right. These pens all had a smooth flow and except for one, they had a generous and even flow of ink. Two of the pens were fine point but the one I liked the most was the medium ballpoint pen.

I tested on two kinds of paper. In the photos above, I used Rhodia's Ivory High Grade Vellum Paper (heavenly to write on with anything) and in the photos below I used a regular notebook.

There was slight bleed-through with two of the pens on the notebook paper, but not with the Rhodia.

 Here's more of a close up with the four points.

Giveaway Information
You can win your own set of these four TUL pens featured here just by leaving a comment. The contest is open to US residents. Leave a comment by midnight Sunday, Dec. 9 and the winner will be selected and notified on Monday, Dec. 10. If you don't want to leave your email address in the comment, then just leave your comment and EMAIL me your email address.

You can earn additional entries by promoting this contest linking to this blog on FACEBOOK (Letters & Journals) or TWITTER (@LandJmagazine). Total entries possible are 3. Just leave a comment for each one.

Disclaimer: I received the TUL products mentioned in this post from OfficeMax in order to facilitate my review. The items featured in this giveaway are also provided by OfficeMax and will be sent to the winner directly. Opinions expressed in this post are 100% my own. I have not been compensated for this post in any other way.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Leather Journals

I saw these awesome handmade journals at a local home show in Minneapolis a couple weeks ago. Don't you love how they're displayed in old and worn crates?

Handmade by Nicole Aufderhar, these journals come in a variety of sizes and colors.
One of my favorites is the use of an old photograph to create even more character. Don't you just want to head to the antique store and find a photograph to use in creating your own journal or notebook?
How can anyone resist these minis? Although I love the idea of them, I can't imagine writing in something so small.

 You can see more and order your favorite journal at her etsy site, WayfaringArt.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Letter Links for October 15

Now that the cooler weather has arrived in Minnesota, it's easier to find time to spend reading blogs and magazines. So much of my time these days is spent on Natural Awakenings. As there's just a few of us to do all the work, there ends up being a lot to do- find local articles, sells ads, update the website, do social networking, write articles, etc. I sure do miss my Letters & Journals!

We finally got some rain after months with very little.I took this picture on Sunday to try to capture some of the autumn colors before the leaves all fall from the trees.
The view from our front door (Oct. 14, 2012)
Here are some highlights from my recent web reading:

365 Letters- Matching Your Letter Topics to Your Stamps
Penchant for Paper- Pages from the Travel Journal
Cappuccino & Art Journal- Travelin' but not Light
Leaving a Paper Trail - More Mail

Enjoy! And if you have time, tell me what you've been up to this beautiful October.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

For the Sender

Songwriter and musician, Alex Woodard was dealing with the loss of his dog, while questioning where he was going with his life. During this time, Alex received a letter from Emily.

"He didn’t know it yet, but Emily’s letter had started Alex down his own path of moving through loss and reconciling broken dreams, culminating one cold December night on a small stage in suburban Atlanta. And he found out for himself that a song is like a letter, and a letter is like a prayer."

Reading an excerpt from "For the Sender", you can feel the sadness in Alex's life even as he pursues his dream of being a musician.

"For the Sender" book, CD and website was born out of time. Partnering with other musicians, Alex found a way to turn four letters, including Emily's, into 12 songs. They made a CD and a book called "For the Sender" and are continuing to receive more letters as their new business expands and gains even more momentum.

It's inspiring to see how letters continue to connect and direct people's lives. If you’d like to have your own “handwritten letter” considered for a song by Alex and the For the Sender musicians, please mail it to:
For The Sender
c/o Hay House
P.O. Box 5100
Carlsbad, CA 92018

Friday, August 3, 2012

New Planner Joy

I wasn't looking for a 2013 planner when I wandered into Subtext Bookstore in St. Paul this week. But I just had to have this one that has, of all things, a place for "Correspondence" in its weekly pages.
Even though it's a weekly calendar, it has a monthly page for each month. Opposite the monthly page is a place for "Goals & Objectives" "To Do This Month" and "New Project/Ideas". Joy and possibilities!
The planner is made by Polestar, a name and company not familiar to me. It's printed in vegetable-based inks on 100% post-consumer recycled paper that's been processed chlorine-free.
 The Polestar Business Planner retails for $19.95.

Now I just have to wait until Monday, Dec. 17 so I can start using it. So excited!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Letter Links

I have not been able to spend as much time reading correspondence blogs like I used to. I kind of miss it. There is so much good stuff out there!
I recently discovered Creative Correspondence. I think you'll like it too.

Do You Use a Bulletin Board? by A Penchant for Paper

What to Write About by 365 Letters

4th of July was a Good Mail Day by Missive Maven

The Rumpus is launching Letters for Kids, where your child can receive a letter from an author such as Lemoney Snickett, among others for a small monthly fee.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Magazine Insert Creativity Contest

People are so creative. We find new ways to use old things every day - pop bottles, books, envelopes, clipboards.
Pop bottle becomes backyard sprinkler
Book spines made into bookmarks 

Turn junk mail envelopes into handmade book
New life for clipboards
Inspired by the Index Card a Day (ICAD) found on Daisy Yellow's blog, I think we can do the same with the magazine inserts. We just have to be more creative since we're not starting with a blank slate, so to speak.
What are some ways you've used these super-lightweight postcards?
Well, put your thinking cap on and get out your creativity toolbox for your chance to win a $25 gift card to Jet Pens!

Start with a magazine insert card and create a piece of art. No cards, you say? Easy enough- just visit your local library or bookstore and shake a few magazines. Soon you will have plenty!

There are two options for entry: Blog Post or Mail. There will only be one winner.

Blog Post with Photos- If you have a blog, you can post photos of your creation with a link back to this original post. If your entry is complicated, please include instructions for those of us who may want to try your idea on our own. Email me at Jackie at lettersandjournals dot com with a link to your blog.

Mail your entry to Jackie Flaherty, Letters & Journals, PO Box 120052, St. Paul, MN 55112. Be sure to include your contact information as well as any instructions.

1. Contest is open to everyone
2. Deadline is Sept. 1, 2012 (must be received or posted by this date)
3. Multiple entries are acceptable
4. Winner will be selected by me and notified by email

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Ephemera For Sale

I'm cleaning out my boxes and boxes of ephemera and have decided to pack it up and ship it out for the price of shipping plus $1.65 processing.
The assortment of items includes stamps, stickers, photos, maps, advertisements, notepaper, strings, envelopes, ribbons, ticket stubs, bookmarks, stencils, calendar pages, old book pages, scrapbooking supplies, a few odd pens/markers, rubber stamps, business cards and more!
Misc ephemera
I have 5 boxes filled to the brim with all of the stuff I've been saving and collecting for years. As much as I love the ephemera I gather, I just don't take the time to utilize making things like I used to- scrapbook pages, artist trading cards, handmade cards, collages, postcards.
Misc ephemera
I've put these paper treasures in medium flat rate boxes and will mail each one for $13 to the first 5 people who email me at Jackie at LettersandJournals dot com. (Flat rate fee $11.35 + 1.65 processing).
Misc ephemera
There may be more as I get to my stuffed that's packed away in the garage, but for now I'm working on cleaning out my closets, desks and one spare bedroom.

Paypal and Checks accepted. US only.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Printer's Row Lit Festival

Earlier this month, a friend and I went on a long awaited trip to Chicago to attend the 28th annual Printer's Row Lit Festival. Two days filled with books, publishers, authors, postcards, posters, journals and so much more.
Sunshine and crowds were in full force on both days of the festival. Estimated attendance: 130,000.

We started early and found shade where we could. At one point we went into a nice cool bar to refresh ourselves and give our feet a break. And later we visited Sandmeyer's Bookstore which was conveniently on a sidewalk along the festival path.
The booth displaying these handmade journals was extremely popular. They had hundreds of different sizes and designs available and they were a joy just to admire and behold.
But mostly it was about the books. They were everywhere!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Letter Links

Looking to write a letter or read about others' correspondence activities? Check out some of these blogs for interesting, curious, letter lovers like yourself.
Olive at Billions and Billions
Susan Branch (Illustrator) Letter Writing as an Art
Tara at The Elevated Envelope
Julie with her Penpal of the Week
Courtney at The Pen Pal Project
365 Letters blog post about Letters in the News
And finally, a short blog entry by Helen Martin, an poetic writer describing her history of receiving letters:
 As well as print magazines – my heart goes boom – I adore the beauty that is letters, parcels and packages. Since leaving university years ago, when one of my best lady friends and I were separated by hills, rivers, mountains and the M25, we have corresponded an awful lot through the medium of post. With absolutely no word of a warning, a parcel full of ripped out bits of magazines, postcards, a letter, some highly desired make up, a haircut proposal and glitter would turn up c/o my postie and upon opening, spill out in a magic flurry of thoughtfulness and loveliness.
There you have it. My letter writing links recommendations. I know there are more out there. What are yours?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

National Stationery Show 2012

This week in New York begins the National Stationery Show (May 20-23) and I'll be missing it! This is the first time in a few years that I have not been there. So I've found some other blogs to follow who are sharing their experience:

Twitter & the National Stationery Show

For those of you on Twitter, you can find and follow the tweets by searching for #stationeryshow or #nss or following @stationeryshow. For specific events like the National Stationery Show, spending time on Twitter will open up a world of people out there who share your interest. If you're new to Twitter, here is all you need to do. Even without an account, you can:
1. Go to
2. Put #NSS or #Stationeryshow in the SEARCH box
3. Read posts by those who show up in the timeline
4. Click on websites of the people or companies that interest you

If you like what you see then I recommend that you set up a Twitter account so that you can follow all of the people you're finding on Twitter who interest you. Once you set up an account, you can start following people.
 1. Find someone like @stationeryshow and click on their name to be taken to their Twitter page
2. Click on their followers
3. Start reading descriptions and tweets and click on FOLLOW for any people/companies you like
4. Soon you'll have a list of people you're following and the great thing is as you find really interesting people, you can follow who they follow or who follows them. Warning: this is a rabbit hole, much like Pinterest, and can take you hours to resurface
5. Some of them will start following you back so I recommend for you to add a description to yourself mentioning the topics you like or the traits about yourself you want people to know (chocolate lover, mom to 4, hockey enthusiast - you get the picture).
This is a great way to find people who share your interest. To search for any topic, just add the hash tag # before a word or a combination of words all linked together. #stationery or #stationeryshow #penpals, #letters, #mail. Just pick a topic and off you go!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Letter Writing Social in Washington, DC

Saturday, April 28, 2012

If you're a letter writer and are lucky enough to be in the Washington, DC area on this date then you may want to consider attending this letter writing event at the National Postal Museum.

Melissa at Craftgasm is one of the organizers and she would love to see a good turnout. So help out your missive writing brethren and attend this letter writing social.

Spread the word and share the joy!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Stack of Letters

Having a stack of letters to respond to is kind of a comfort to me. On the other hand, having too large of a stack of letters can be overwhelming.  For letter writers, it's helpful to have a system and some balance to their process. Here is some of what I do.

Currently, I use this wooden caddy for letters. I will grab one, two or a handful when I have some letter writing time to dedicate to them.
I'll select the card or stationery from my box of stationery supplies and then I'll select the pen based on the paper that I've chosen.
Next, I'll reread the letter I'm about to respond to so that my memory is refreshed of what is recent in the lives of my letter writing friend. I love the variety and creativity of the missives I receive. Many inspire me to be more creative in what I send out.
Sitting down at my desk (rarely this clean), I will begin my return correspondence. Usually it's quiet, but sometimes I'll have music in the background. Currently I'm listening to I Like You from Minneapolis.
If I'm traveling or going to the local coffee shop to write my letters, then I will use this lovely handmade carry-all for my letter writing supplies.
This was sent to me by my pen pal Cecelia who is talented in design and sewing. Also, she is kind and thoughtful. I love using this and think of her every time I do.
On March 31 I wrote by candlelight since it was 8:30pm and I was honoring Earth Hour by shutting off all lights, computers, electrical appliances, etc. This happens once a year and is pretty amazing when you see all the people involved and the difference that our combined efforts make.
Before sending off my correspondence, I select the appropriate stamp and return address label. Most letter writers I know have a selection of both of these from which to choose. It's half the fun and much of the charm. I will admit that I'm bit of a stamp snob and always prefer to see themed stamps rather than the generic flag ones, or worse yet, the metered postage.
Then it's off to the post office to send my letter on its way!
Who are you writing to today?