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?

Saturday, March 31, 2018

The Daily Greatness Journal Review

I had heard about the Daily Greatness Journal: A Practical Guide for Consciously Creating Your Days for a while, but couldn't justify the cost of $49.95. Last November I decided to look at it as an investment in self-development and I made the purchase.
There is a lot of reading at the beginning of the journal as it challenges you to think about what you want in your life. There are areas to fill in about Values, Dreams, Goals, Your 'Why', Personal Statement, Greatness Blueprint. Think about that- A Greatness Blueprint. Not that you need this journal to create one, but I love that they thought to include it!
Once you've spent some time, thought and energy on the bigger picture, it's time to get down to business. The Daily Greatness Journal is divided in four quarters with a 90-day planner at the start of each quarter. There is also a 90-day check-in so that you can track your progress for the previous 90 days.
This is genius and ties in perfectly with the concept of the 12-week year as developed and explained by Brian P. Moran in his book, The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months.
Moran explains that by creating and tracking goals quarterly, you can track your progress better, change course sooner if something isn't working, develop clear action plans and measurable follow-up.

You can still have annual goals, but the idea is to break the bigger goals into smaller ones with actionable items. The Daily Greatness Journal includes a space for your 'Why' as well as a place to list 5 actions for each goal. If you're not ready to be serious with your goal setting and follow through, then this book is not for you.
The majority of the book is made up of daily pages, a weekly check-in and a weekly planner. To get the best use out of this planner, it should be used in the morning and the evening, although whatever usage habits you decide and can stick with, will work.
The calendar is not dated so that you can begin using this at any time throughout the year and don't need to wait until January 1.

I spent a lot of time on the pre-work (goals, plans, values, etc) and started tracking my daily, weekly, monthly activity, ideas and plans, but found that I wasn't resonating with some of the areas. For example, each day it asks you to list four things about you saying "I am ____". And you do this four times, every day. While this started off OK, it quickly got repetitive and uninspiring.

The journal is not really meant to be toted around as it is hefty and substantial. I keep it at my desk and am considering other ways to make it more customized and useful to me, such as using Washi and stickers to treat more like a Traveler's Notebook, or my Hobonichi, which is my new favorite. I'll keep you posted on that!

Monday, March 19, 2018

My First Hobonichi Original

I love planners and every year I have more than I can possibly use, although I do try to use them all. I've decided to start reviewing them and sharing what I like, what works for me as well as what I'm not so fond of - plannerwise.

This versatile day planner can be used as a diary, bullet journal, photo album, a memory tracker, scrapbook, list keeper and so much more.

At Planner Con 2018, I was delighted to purchase my first ever Hobonichi Techo Planner Book for 2018 and I love it! I've only been using it since the beginning of March and it is awesome!
I love the size (A6), the clear doodle cover I purchased as well as the purchased blue case to hold the planner. I love the ultra thin pages that are so smooth to write on. I prefer to use a fine point pen and this planner is perfect for that. I love, love, love this paper!
The planner itself is a 4.1 x 5.8 softback book that fits neatly into the purchased blue cover as shown below. The clear Tokyo cover goes over the blue hardback cover, so it's a 3-tiered system that can all be bought separately online (Amazon, Etsy, etc) or at stationery stores. There are two bookmarks attached to the planner. I use one at the front for the monthly calendar, and the second bookmark for the daily tracker.
Mine is the English version, rather than the Japanese edition.
You can see an overview of the year by month at the beginning of the book.Sundays are in RED.
After the annual overview, there are the monthly pages,and then the daily pages.
On each of the daily pages, is a quote on the left hand side of the page with a description of the context of the quote on the right hand side of the page. In the Japanese version the quotes are in Japanese so are meaningless if you don't read Japanese :)
With the pens I've used so far, there has been no bleed-through, but there's a warning on the Hobonichi website to test fountain pens first as some pens or inks can bleed through.
Do any of you have a Hobonichi? What do you think?

Sunday, March 18, 2018

InCoWriMo Recap for 2018

The InCoWriMo 2018 challenge ended on Feb 28 and I would say it was a success for me. Did I write a letter every day? No. But there were plenty of days where I wrote multiple letters, note cards or postcards. Overall, I mailed over 40 pieces of mail in February.

Here are three postcards from the Postcards from Penguin: One Hundred Book Covers in One Box. I reached out to three new people on the InCoWriMo website using these lovelies.
 I also  heard from John via Twitter who sent me a lovely letter and two others who reached out from InCoWriMo.
We were vacationing in Roatan, Honduras for eight days in February so some of the mail I sent in February was the postcards I purchased from the island. Will see if they find their way to any of the recipients as I heard from multiple sources that mail is notoriously unreliable on Roatan. My husband and I had quite the little adventure finding the Post Office to purchase stamps. I will blog about that in an upcoming post.

Below are three letters I mailed after returning from Roatan. Note the Honduran stamp in the right hand corner on the top two envelopes. Initially, I had planned to mail from Roatan, but after hearing from multiple people about the unreliability of the mail, I opted to wait to mail until I returned to the States.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Planner Con 2018 in San Francisco

I attended the 2nd Annual Planner Con event at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco in early March. This event had all kinds of heavenly planner goodness- planners, journals, stickers, stamps, cutouts, bands, charms, pens, markers and so much more!
I had not heard of Planner Con before and only happened upon it through some posts on Instagram. This was the 2nd Annual Conference, but they also have Planner Parties at various cities 4-5 times per year. The best place to find information on the upcoming Planner Con Parties as well as the 2019 conference is to follow Planner Con on Facebook.
They sold all 1,000 tickets to this year's Planner Con and I had to get on the waitlist not knowing if a ticket would become available. Fortunately, I didn't have to wait long.

So, what's all the fuss about? First of all, when you attend, it's like you've found your tribe. A common question upon meeting a sister (or fellow) planner, was "What planner do you use?" Can you imagine that question in the context of everyday life and the looks you might get when you ask that?!

Secondly, there was such a wonderful assortment of offerings:  Vendors, Speakers, Workshops, Raffles, Swap Table, Scavenger Hunt and Bingo.

Finally, there was the energy of the conference itself. Positive, uplifting, generous, fun, energizing.

A friendly face manning the Paper House booth.
The Filo Fax booth was so inspiring with their wide assortment of product and samples on display of used planners (more on this in another post).
Pipsticks is the monthly sticker planner subscription providers with so much more!
I look forward to going back again next year.

Will post again with more detail on some of the speakers, vendors, workshops, etc.

Friday, February 16, 2018

More from InCoWriMo

The letter writing goodness keeps spreading as I received this gem in this week's mail as part of International Correspondence Writers' Month (InCoWriMo). I'm inspired by the envelope and in love with the handmade paper she used as stationery. You too? Who can blame you?
I plan to unplug for the majority of the upcoming week and dedicate myself to analog communication: letter writing, journaling, idea generation, diving deeper into existing ideas to see how I can best execute them, planning, dreaming, capturing my dreams on paper. All this with a pen and notebook (Maybe a few postcards and note cards too. A few colored pens and pencils. Maybe some whimsical rubber stamps. And fun postage stamps too.)

And what will you be doing this week?

Sunday, February 11, 2018

InCoWriMo Update

I received my first letter from the InCoWriMo website where I had entered my name and address in their international Address Book.  Isn't that some lovely writing and mail art? I just love a decorated envelope (and, really, any mail that's personal is appreciated!).
Interestingly, the author chose to select someone who has the same name as her. I love that idea! I've been doing random searches by scrolling and then stopping and selecting one of the names that are presented in that screenshot. Sometimes I choose one from outside the US, but mostly I've selected names from the US.

How about you? Are you participating in #InCoWriMo this year?

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Types of Mail to Send for InCoWriMo

In my last post I listed suggestions of who to send mail to for the 2018 InCoWriMo challenge. In this post I will list types of mail you can send if you need some more inspiration.

1. Postcard of your city or state
2. Postcard of a place you've been
3. Sympathy Card - If you don't know someone who lost someone or a pet recently, then possibly find someone in news whose story touched you.
4. Birthday Card
5. Handmade Card
6. Copy/paste some humorous cartoons or sayings into a WORD document and print them and mail them to someone who A) Doesn't do social media or B) Would appreciate them.
7. Thinking of You Card
8. Get Well Card
9. Send a letter on your prettiest stationery
10. Create your own Q&A to share with a friend or penpal
11. Mail a secret on a postcard to (keep anonymous)
12. Thank you card
13. Valentine card (better yet, buy a pack of six)
14. Purple (or the color of your choice) Letter (ink, paper, stickers or washi)
15. Congratulate someone (new job, baby, move,blog)
16. Ephemera - gather some mismatched paper pieces and send to someone who appreciates
17. Recipes - send a copy of your favorite recipe (include a photo if you'd like)
18. Send a picture of someone that you have to them - maybe one they've never seen. What a delight!
19. Weather updates - track weather patterns for a day or two and send a report to one of your mail recipients. Extra: Include a photo.
20. Send a letter to yourself. When you receive it, leave it unopened for a set amount of time (five years, one year, six months, whatever you decide) Current challenges, future dreams, list of gratitude.
21. Send a postcard. Most of these are international ($1.15 postage) and the site requires you to have an account. In exchange, when your postcard is received/registered, then you will be sent a postcard from somewhere in the world.
22. Go to Goodwill or some other store where you can buy used goods. Purchase postcards, cards or stationery there and then use one of them to send a piece of mail.
23. Say your sorry. It's never too late to make amends.
24. Send some color to a friend. A scrap of paper, a square of cloth, a ribbon.
25. Send a bookmark to your favorite bibliophile.
26. A calendar page with a date circled/highlighted for you and the recipient to do something fun.
27. A piece of fan mail to someone whose profession rarely receives such a thing (undertaker, custodian, nurse, policeman, etc)
28. Send a letter to yourself. Use your favorite stationery and best stamp(s)!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Ideas for InCoWriMo this February

Are you making plans to participate in this year's International Correspondence Writing Month, more commonly known as InCoWriMo? If you visit the official website, you'll find a list of hundreds of names and addresses from all over the world, as well as ideas on how to make the most of InCoWriMo.

If you're on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, you can search for #InCoWriMo and see who is talking about what they'll be doing for this annual, month-long, self-designed adventure. It's great to get some new ideas and find others just as interested as you in sending and receiving mail.

I came up with a list of 28 ideas of possible recipients for the writing challenge. Of course, the easiest way would be to pick a different name from the address book on the InCoWriMo website. You can state in your card, letter, postcard if you're looking for long-term correspondence, or just a one-time "How do you do".
1.  Movie Star
2. Sport Figure
3. Newscaster
4. Television star
5. Author
6. Politician (local or national)
7. Penpal (current or previous)
8. Someone from incowrimo
9. Someone from sendsomething,net
10. Valentine to someone
11. Someone you admire
12. Family member
13. Old friend or co-worker
14. Musician/band
15. Someone from armed services
16. Someone who lost a spouse/child
17. Someone you've never met
18. Nursing home resident
19. Stationery enthusiast
20. Public figure you admire
21. TV show writer or producer
22. Favorite product/company
23. Local animal shelter or cause
24. Letter to south pole
25. Someone in another country
26. Sympathy card
27. New homeowner
28. Someone pursuing a dream

Of course, you can always write to Yours Truly! I'll be glad to write back.

What are your plans for InCoWriMo? In my next blog post, I'll show how I've begun my special preparations so that I'm ready to roll on February 1.